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Cocktails Dedicated To History’s Unsung Jewish Heroines

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The following is an excerpt from “Drinking Like Ladies: 75 Modern Cocktails From The World’s Leading Bartenders.” These sassy broads, and the classic cocktails dedicated to them, are unsung heroines of Jewish history. Peruse through the biographies of these history-making heroines and then mix yourself the cocktail dedicated to them. It’s four o’clock somewhere and it’s history o’clock all the time, so have a drink and let’s dive in.

Irena Sendler

(1910-2008, Activist)

“Every child saved with my help is the justification of my existence on this Earth, and not a title to glory.” -Irena Sendler

Sometimes life’s most challenging moments help us learn our most important lessons and discover a strength of character we didn’t know we had. Irena Sendler’s father died when she was seven years old. A physician, he contracted Typhus while treating Jewish patients whom other doctors would not treat. His final words to her were, “If you see someone drowning, you must jump in and try and save them, even if you don’t know how to swim,” instilling in Irena a respect for humanity that would guide her actions throughout her life.

Sendler attended Warsaw University, where she opposed the ghetto bench system that required segregated seating for Jewish students under threat of expulsion. Irena defaced her grade card in protest, an act that resulted in a three-year suspension. When the Germans invaded Poland, Irena began assisting her Jewish neighbors by providing food, clothing, and water. In 1942, the creation of the Warsaw Ghetto was a call to action for Sendler. She joined the resistance group Zegota, which had been formed in response to the deportation of Warsaw Jews to the Treblinka death camp. As the head of the Children’s Department, Sendler would enter the ghetto daily using a pass from the Warsaw Epidemic Control Department. Aided by a network of accomplices, Sendler smuggled hundreds of children from the ghetto and placed them in orphanages in convents for safety. Sendler kept meticulous records of each child’s whereabouts buried in hopes of reuniting families after the war.

In October of 1943 her subversive activities were discovered by the Gestapo. She was imprisoned, tortured, and sentenced to death; however, she was able to escape by bribing a guard. She spent the remainder of the war in hiding while clandestinely assisting Zegota. It is estimated that Sendler and her comrades in Zegota saved more than 2,500 children during World War II.

Hunter Chain

By Madeleine Rapp

The Dead Rabbit Grocery & Grog, New York, NY

“Would I be as brave as her in that situation?” mused drink creator Madeleine Rapp while developing this cocktail. “I would like to think so! I wanted to make a powerful yet bright and floral drink, something served up that Irena could enjoy and that would make her feel fabulous.”

YIELD: 1 cocktail

Glassware: Old Fashioned glass

Garnish: lemon oils


1 teaspoon (5 ml) Passion Berry Syrup (see below)

1/4 ounce (8 ml) Italicus

1/4 ounce (8 ml) verjus

1/2 ounce (15 ml) fino sherry

1 1/2 ounces (45 ml) Tanqueray No. Ten

Passion Berry Syrup

YIELD: about 3 cups (700 ml)

20 passion berries

2 cups (450 g) granulated sugar


Pour all the ingredients into a mixing glass and stir until cold. Pour into a coupe glass. Garnish with lemon oils and serve.


Place passion berries, sugar, and 2 cups (475 ml) water in a pot. Heat over low heat for 1 hour. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Strain through cheesecloth and refrigerate.

Lise Meitner

(1878—1968), Scientist

At first blush, the phrase “behind every successful man is a great woman” has its charms. Utter it about Lise Meitner, however, and you will feel the wrath of our side-eye.

Lise was born in 1878 into an intellectual Jewish family. Her father believed his daughter should receive the same education as his sons. She became the second women to obtain a doctoral degree in physics at the University of Vienna, at a time when women weren’t allowed to attend institutions of higher education (she had a private tutor).

Meitner moved to Berlin and was introduced to Max Planck, whose lectures were for men only. He made an exception for Meitner, and after a year she became his assistant, starting a long working relationship with chemist Otto Hahn. In 1912, the Meitner-Hahn team moved to the Kaiser-Wihelm Institute (KWI), where Lise worked as a “guest” in Hahn’s Department of Radiochemistry for a full year before being awarded a full term position (an equivalent job to Hahn’s with substantially less pay). Lise became the first professor of physics at the University of Berlin in 1926.

Once Hitler came to power, it was a matter of time before Lise needed to flee. She escaped, landing in the Stockholm lab of Manne Siegbahn, who wouldn’t let women work there because “they would catch their hair on fire.” Meitner did her work in the basement. Lise continued to correspond with Hahn, meeting secretly and performing experiments—hers in Stockholm, Hahn’s in Berlin—that would lead to the co-discovery of nuclear fission. Hahn published his work in 1939, with no credit to Meitner. He also failed to mention her in 1944, while receiving a Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the work.

Meitner was written out of the discovery of fission, but she remained on the right side of history. Her colleagues in Germany, in their pursuit of science, collaborated with and supported the Nazi regime, but when Meitner was asked to join the American Manhattan Project, she flatly refused: “I will have nothing to do with the bomb.” She was named “Woman of the Year” in 1946 by the National Press Club. And in 1997, element 109 was named meitnerium in her honor.

Wildberry Glory

By Karen Fu

Studio Restaurant and Bar, Freehand Hotel, New York, NY

Creator Karen Fu’s cocktail combines wild strawberry liqueur, aperitif wines, and a double base of gin and mescal for a drink that is a strong and spirit-forward nod to its inspirational broad.

YIELD: 1 cocktail

Glassware: 5 1/2-ounce (160 ml) Nick & Nora glass

Garnish: half strawberry


1/2 ounce (15 ml) Kina L’Avion d’Or

3/4 ounce (22 ml) Lustau Vermut

1/4 ounce (8 ounce) Giffard Fraise de Bois

1/2 ounce (15 ml) Monkey 47 Gin

1 ounce (30 ml) Del Maguey Cremade Mezcal


Stir ingredients with ice in a shaker and strain. Garnish with half a strawberry and serve.

Drinking Like Ladies © 2018 Quarto Publishing Group USA Inc. First Published in 2018 by Quarry Books, an imprint of The Quarto Group.

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