The Witches’ Daiquiri and Salem Witch Trials

Your cocktail calendar entry for: September
22
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If you were wondering what to mix on September 22 for the anniversary of the final Salem Witch Trial hangings we’re here to help.  To do that we’ll provide instructions on how to make the Witches’ Daiquiri as Drink of the Day.

There are other notable historic events on this day, like the formation of the first French Republic and the massive 1699 strike in Rotterdam over the high price of butter.  (Seriously, do not mess with the Dutch and their love of butter.)  There are also some events we’d just as soon forget, like the debut of Baywatch in 1989.

But none of these other events evoke a cocktail with a name as interesting as Witches’ Daiquiri.  So the choice was destined.

Witch trials weren’t a new thing.  In 14th century Europe there was widespread belief that the devil could give witches the power to harm others.  This carried over to colonial New England.  When you add in the harsh realities of life in rural Salem Village people were tense.  A recent smallpox epidemic, attacks from nearby Native American tribes and a longstanding rivalry with the more affluent Salem Town made the folks suspicious of and resentful toward their neighbors and any outsiders.

In the spring of 1692 a group of young girls in Salem Village apparently had convulsions, barked, hallucinated and seemed devil-possessed.  Pretty much what Bill Murray described in Ghostbusters, but without the dogs and cats living together.  The time was ripe for an episode of mass hysteria and that’s just what happened.

Pretty soon three women, all of whom were societal outcasts for some reason, were accused and arrested for allegedly afflicting the young girls.  They were brought before magistrates even though the practice of witch trials had nearly died out in Europe.  Early on the proceedings were investigative, but when the list of accused had grown to more than forty individuals a special court was established.

The standards in these trials were not much better than what we know from Monty Python and the Holy Grail:  Wood floats on water, as do ducks.  Therefore, if a woman weighs the same as a duck she must be able to float on water, which means she is made of wood, and consequently must be a witch.

As the saga played out a total of over 200 people were accused and 30 were found guilty.  Nineteen individuals (fourteen women and five men) were hanged, and another man was pressed to death by having stones piled on his chest because he refused to enter a plea.  The last hangings occurred on September 22, 1692.

A few trials continued in 1693, but the fervor had died out and respected individuals such as the President of Harvard College urged that standards for evidence should be as rigorous as for a criminal trial.  Soon enough the governor dissolved the special court and pardoned anyone still in prison on witchcraft charges.

So that’s the story behind what has lived on in political rhetoric and literature as an example of the dangers of isolationism, religious extremism, false accusations and a lack of due process.  Let’s face it, this one was a doozy and anyone there could have used a drink, even if most of them were Puritans and the best they had on hand was some weak beer.  So for this occasion we pull out the Witches’ Daiquiri.

Unfortunately, we have no idea who invented the Witches’ Daiquiri.  It’s obscure and reported on a few websites, but without attribution.  It’s really a tasty variation on the classic Daiquiri, with Strega and Orgeat added.

For those not already familiar, Strega is an Italian herbal liqueur that has been produced since 1860.  It’s a bit like an Italian version of Yellow Chartreuse, relatively sweet, herbal and with liqueur viscosity.  it contains around 70 different herbs and spices and is bright yellow because the recipe uses saffron.  For the Witches’ Daiquiri it’s a natural as strega in Italian is the word for witch.

Witches' Daiquri

Witches' Daiquiri

A variation on the classic Daiquiri that incorporates Strega (the Italian word for witch) in the recipe, the Witches' Daiquiri is an obscure but delicious recipe with a flavor that almost ventures into the tiki drink universe.
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Equipment

  • Shaker
  • Nick and Nora or coupe glass

Ingredients
  

  • 1 oz Rum (Use a gold rather than white rum in this application.)
  • oz Strega
  • oz Orgeat syrup (You may find this on your store shelf labeled simply as Almond Syrup. Don't worry, it's the right stuff and you'll need it for a variety of Tiki drinks as well as the Trinidad Sour.)
  • ½ oz Fresh lemon juice
  • ½ oz Fresh orange juice
  • Garnish: cherry. Eye of newt optional.

Instructions
 

  • Add liquid ingredients to your trusty shaker.
  • Add ice and shake until frosty cold.
  • Strain into pre-chilled cocktail glass and garnish with cherry on a pick.
  • Drink.
  • Engage in incantations or other processes to invoke the supernatural.
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