Celebrate Rosh Hashanah at Moscow's Mitzva

Jewish culture and craft cocktails meet at this unique Russian restaurant and bar.
Mitzva's interior is a mix of secret societies, mysticism, and alchemy.
Mitzva's interior is a mix of secret societies, mysticism, and alchemy.

A hipster hangout hidden in one of Moscow's numerous courtyard entrances might not be the obvious choice to find a Jewish-inspired restaurant and bar, but that's part of its appeal. Mitzva, as evidenced by the name, is a celebration of all things Judaic, from Ashkenazi to Sephardi to Israeli influences found in its food and drink. But they're far from Orthodox, notes Daniil Goldman, one of the bar's founders. "We're not a kosher place, but rather a place where old Jewish traditions and mysticism meets high-end technology, both in the kitchen and behind the bar counter," he explains.

Since its opening in May 2015, Mitzva has been named the "Best Cocktail Bar" by GQ Russia, as well as "Opening of the Year" by Russian publication The Village. Goldman claims it's the first and only cocktail bar inspired by Jewish culture in the world, even though the name really began as a play on words with the coming of age tradition of Bar/Bat Mitzvahs. Goldman explains, "We decided to dig deeper and further develop the idea by exploring the cultural and historical aspects of Jewish communities around the world and its connections with secret societies, mysticism and alchemy. We ended up finding our way to a modern cocktail bar, but with a wide stroke of Jewishness and hermeticism in it."

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, begins this Wednesday, September 20, at sundown. It is followed ten days later by Yom Kippur, the holiest of Jewish holidays, which is marked by a personal reflection and atonement of one's behavior. As with most holidays, it's also a reason to gather with family and friends and mark the occasion with plenty of food and drink. Goldman agrees, "In the end, we provide a great cocktail bar experience with a touch of history."

Below are some of Mitzva's show-stopper cocktails to inspire you this Rosh Hashanah, along with notes from Goldman on their creation and influences.

The Nubius Salam cocktail from Mitzva

Nublus Salam

Jameson Caskmates, homemade Israeli zhug, aquafaba, lemon juice, simple syrup, smoked chickpeas with Israeli spices

"This drink is our homage to the Palestinian and Muslim people of Israel. Nublus is one of the main Arab cities in Palestine. It's a gastronomical drink with a food pairing. We make a famous hot Middle Eastern sauce, zhug. We also use aquafaba (which is the water remaining after boiling chickpeas). It is a substitute for egg white, so this drink is vegan. As a food pairing, we use smoked chickpeas with za'atar, which we buy in Tel Aviv."

Seal of Solomon cocktail from Mitzva

Seal of Solomon

Bulleit rye infused with burnt oak chips, Cocchi Americano, Martini Rubino, housemade tonka beans essence

"The Seal of Solomon, or Ring of Solomon, is the signet ring attributed to King Solomon in medieval Jewish tradition. In Islamic and Western occultism, it was often depicted in either a pentagram or hexagram shape; the latter is also known as the Star of David in Jewish tradition. We serve this drink in the metal kiddush glass from Jerusalem on handmade wooden coasters with the Seal of Solomon."

Opus Magnum cocktail from Mitzva

Opus Magnum

Tanqueray 10 Gin, Cocchi Americano, fleur d'orange, housemade lavender essence, white chocolate syrup, lemon juice

"This drink is dedicated to the main purpose and process in alchemy: the search of the Philosopher's Stone formula. We've finally got the right recipe! We pre-batch this sour drink and clarify it with pectinase and then filter it, so it's clear, smooth and perfectly balanced. We make the lavender essence with the Soxhlet extractor."
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