Purple Jesus

Purple Jesus

Who doesn’t love the name of this drink – it’s so amusing to me. Upon discovering this recipe in the Lee Bros’ second book, I knew it had to be made. But it still begged the question: what exactly is a Purple Jesus?

fruit syrup for drinks

Well, apparently it’s a Deep South libation usually made with grape Kool-Aid, citrus fruit, and cheap vodka. It’s fairly unsophisticated, and in fact, Matt and Ted introduce this drink as a concoction that would get mixed in college students’ bathtubs at frat parties, of course noting that those shindigs started out fun but rarely ended well. I can’t speak from experience; somehow, I managed to make it through college without ever seeing Jesus in my bathtub.

Purple Jesus drink

Since Matt and Ted Lee are the complete antithesis of unsophisticated, there’s no grape Kool-Aid for them. Instead, they use cherries and blackberries for the purple. They wrote the recipe advising to steep the vodka with the fruit overnight, then top off the vodka with club soda. Though I’ll certainly make exceptions from time to time, I generally lack the patience to be a let-it-sit-overnight kind of cook. So I tweaked this recipe quite a bit.

Purple Jesus

To keep the flavors and the spirit of the drink, I pureed the cherries and blackberries, strained them, added the grapefruit juice as suggested, some superfine sugar, and kept the vodka and club soda part. This way it was ready when I was – no waiting until tomorrow. We both really enjoyed relaxing with a glass of this oddly-named, yet pleasant drink. Beautiful to look at and to consume.

Purple Jesus

So there you have it – a Purple Jesus. Overall, I get the Purple part, though I remain a bit unclear on how Jesus got involved. Oh well. Due to its sheer deliciousness I’ve decided not to ponder it further. Neither should you. You should just make it and enjoy it.

Purple Jesus with cherries and blackberries

{One year ago: Cherry Limeade and Soft Cheese Tacos}

Source: heavily adapted from Simple Fresh Southern by the Lee Bros

8 oz. sweet cherries, stemmed and pitted, plus a few for garnish
1 pint blackberries
Juice of half a grapefruit
Superfine sugar, if needed
8 oz. vodka
Club soda

First make the syrup. Save a few blackberries for garnish, if desired. Place the cherries and blackberries in the blender. Puree, adding a splash of water if necessary. Strain the puree through a sieve and chill in the refrigerator if not using right away.
Right before you plan to make the drinks, add the juice of half a grapefruit to the puree. Taste, and sprinkle in some sugar if it isn’t sweet enough for your tastes.
Make the drinks. For each drink, fill an 8 oz. glass with ice. Add 4 tablespoons fruit syrup, 2 oz. vodka, and top with club soda. Garnish with a cherry and a blackberry.
As written, this will make about 4 drinks.

3 responses to “Purple Jesus

  1. Pingback: V-Day Drinks for the Single, the Dumped, and the Bitter |

  2. The Jesus part is because when you are hungover the next morning, you will be praying to Jesus to put you out of your misery. Always grape juice when I’ve had it. Cherries and citrus, Vodka and sprite or ginger ale. No fancying it up with puree or berries. Yes, I’ve had it out of bath tubs and coolers. Most people around here use Everclear instead of Vodka, which makes one MUCH sicker the next day. I am trying to find my dad’s recipe right now, as it is a graduation tradition in my family and my daughter graduates from college next week. You have to make it up several days ahead of time, the longer it sits, the more potent it becomes. Pity the person who doesn’t drink it and thinks eating the fruit is harmless!

  3. There are variations of this, most much worse, on various university campuses. One I attended in the 1970s used full size garbage cans (clean) lined with plastic large garbage bag. Ingredients were grape juice, vodka and any other alcoholic drinks guests brought….. beer, rum, gin, scotch you name it, in it went….. some sugar may have been added…… the name was said to come from the color and what you exclaimed upon having your first sip, though the day after reaction makes sense too.

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