Body & Blood | A Maundy Thursday Cocktail


  • 2 oz Red wine
  • 2 oz Wheat (or Rye) Whiskey
  • .25 oz Orange Curacao
  • .75 oz Ube Syrup
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • 2 dashes Orange Bitters
  • .5 oz Water
  • tiny pinch of salt
  • Olive garnish

Add all ingredients to a mixing glass without ice and stir well to incorporate everything. Pour into a wine glass and at serve room temperature. Garnish with a single olive.

View other Holy Day cocktails.

* * * *

Today is Maundy Thursday, one of the fullest, strangest, and most complicated days of Holy Week. So here is a cocktail to match.

A lot happens on this day: Jesus washing his disciples’ feet, the Passover meal and first Communion, his farewell address (also called the “High Priestly Prayer“), his prayers in Gethsemane, the arrest, and his late-night trial before the Jewish authorities.

It’s an emotional roller coaster of a day. There is joy, singing, praying, accusation, defensiveness, injustice, and emotions so intense Jesus sweats blood. There is also a random naked guy running through Gethsemane that scholars have no idea what to make of.

While honoring the events of the day, I’ve tried to craft a cocktail that captures this sense of confusion, contrasts, and upended expectations. And I think this drink does exactly that.

There’s a lot of symbolism in this drink. The most obvious is wine and wheat, for the bread and drink of the last supper. It is served at room temperature like the wine of the meal.

The Angostura bitters are for Jesus sweating blood. The Ube Syrup (see below) is purple for Christ’s royalty and to remind us that even the sweet moments of this day or tinged with darker, deeper notes. Gethsemane is on the Mount of Olives, hence the garnish.

Two ingredients are both functional and carry lots of symbolic weight. The water reminds us of Jesus’ foot washing. The salt hearkens to both the symbolic salt water in Passover meal and the tears of this day.

Lastly, the gospels draw subtle thematic parallels between the Gardens of Eden and Gethsemane, with one reversing the effects of the other. The orange notes in this drink are to remind us of these garden settings.

The resulting drink is so very odd, I’m not sure what to do with it. My wife and another friend who tried it felt the same way. I promise you it tastes different than whatever you imagine just from the recipe.

It has a lot of body, with dark, savory oaky vanilla notes. Even the sweetness is of a darker variety. And yet, there is a subtle floral note accompanied by brightness and fruit. There is bite from the whiskey and an almost sour roundness from the wine. The two play off each other in fascinating ways.

All in all, the drink is a roller coaster, like Maundy Thursday itself. It’s also strong–with nearly 6 ounces of liquid at an estimated 21% ABV–so maybe only have one. That is, unless you want to end up like the strange garden streaker mentioned earlier.

Ingredient Notes

Lots of notes for this drink, but the most important aspect here is how your whiskey and wine of choice play together. There are a lot of variables in that. So before you make the drink, experiment with small tastes of various wines and whiskies mixed together to find two that work.

I will tell you now: every combination will likely taste weird and slightly off. They won’t ever really meld into a single, harmonious flavor, but that’s okay. You’re looking for a wine and whiskey that, while still dissonant in flavor, still work–like jazz.

I knew I wanted to use a wheat whiskey, but those are still a little hard to find and most of the big name ones are only barely “wheaters” and taste more like bourbon–which would not work here. So unless you can find a high percent wheat whiskey, I think you could use rye. I used a limited release 100% straight wheat whiskey by Kinsey.

I confess that I don’t know wine all that well. For this drink used a Pinot Noir. I experimented with a Cabernet Sauvignon and it did not work with the whiskey I wanted to use, though it could work well with a different whiskey. I would aim for a medium-body, medium-dry wine that still has some fruit flavor to it. You definitely don’t want a desert wine.

As I said before, the water and salt are functional and very important. Dilution thins out drinks and helps us taste everything. Ice usually does that, but because this drink is room temperature we need to add the water ourselves. Otherwise, this drink is very thick, syrupy and a little muddy.

Salt has this weird ability to reduce bitterness and amplify sweetness. The interaction of wine and whiskey in this drink seems to bring out a sharp note of bitterness. This magically goes away if you add the tiniest bit of salt–like 4-6 individual granules. You want its chemical effect, not its taste.

The orange items are pretty straightforward. I used Regan’s Orange Bitters and Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao, but use whatever orange liqueur you like (Cointreau, Triple Sec, etc).

Lastly, Ube Syrup. It’s kind of my recent obsession. Ube is a purple yam that’s used in lots of Filipino foods. It’s sweet like other yams, but also slightly nutty, floral, with some vanilla notes. It’s shade of purple is also incredibly delightful.

It can be made into a simple syrup that is incredible in espresso drinks and cocktails. I used this recipe with this Ube extract and it turned out really well. If you don’t feel like doing this, you could probably use regular simple syrup with a few drops of vanilla extract, but you’ll be missing something.

Recipe Card


What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.