Good Friday | a cocktail


  • 1.5 oz Lillet Blanc
  • .75 oz Dry Gin
  • .25 oz St. Germain
  • .25 oz White Vinegar
  • 2 dashes Celery Bitters
  • .25 oz Gentian Amaro or Aperol (float)
  • Garnish: cherry

Add all ingredients (except the Gentian spirit) to a mixing glass with ice. Stir until chilled. Strain into chilled coupe. Add the Gentian Amaro (or Aperol). Garnish with a cherry on a cocktail pick, letting its syrup drip into the glass.

View other Holy Day cocktails.

* * * *

Today is Good Friday, the day on which Jesus faced an unjust Roman trial, was crucified, and even experienced the forsaking of God. It is a violent, unjust, and sad day, only made “good” by subsequent events.

Good Friday is our salvation. It is the moment God himself entered into the greatest fear and consequence of sin and human frailty. It is God’s answer to the suffering of the world: not giving an answer for why it exists, but experiencing it himself and conquering it.

It is bittersweet. It is an unexpected coronation and enthroning over the world and its authorities by letting them do their worst and yet still be beaten.

My first instinct for a Good Friday cocktail would be a dark, smoky, and bitter whiskey drink. But as I reflected on it more, I went in another direction.

The drink goes in two stages. The first makes a golden clear drink that is vegetal and floral, with some vinegar sourness to it. But then you add in the last, blood red, ingredient and the drink becomes something new, with a fruity, herbal vibrancy and depth.

My wife feels this is too morbid, or maybe flippant to the point of sacrilege, but I promise that’s not the intent. It is to show the sweetness, depth, and complexity that comes when Jesus’ blood enters into history, our lives, and this Friday.

The floral and sweet notes hearken to the rebirth on the other side of this death, the vinegar is inspired by Jesus using vinegar to sate his thirst, and the bitter notes keep us attuned to the sting of death. The drink is served up to point at the unexpected royal dimensions of Jesus’ act.

I’ve got to say, it is a fantastic drink, and a great way to end one’s Good Friday fasting.

Ingredient Notes

The bulk of the drink is Lillet Blanc, a french apertif that is like a lighter, drier, more bitter desert white wine. You could use any blanc vermouth here, but I’d avoid a dry vermouth.

I used a pretty light, dry gin because I thought a more aggressive one might compete with the other flavors. I think I was right, but I might try it with other gins to see what happens.

It will feel weird to use your regular white distilled vinegar in a cocktail, but I promise, it is worth it and really lends this drink depth and balance.

You could use any elderflower liqueur you have. I would also be curious to try other fruit or flower liqueurs, like apricot, pear, blackberry, or hibiscus.

my celery bitters are from the Bitter Truth and worked well. I don’t think other types of bitters would work as well.

Lastly, I used (once again) the Lo-Fi Gentian Amaro here, which was perfect. But again, it’s expensive and hard to find. So for the flavor you could use Suze, another Gentian spirit, or I think you could use Aperol if you really want the color aspect, but it would be a different drink.

Recipe Card


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