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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Source: heavily adapted from Simple Fresh Southern by the Lee Bros
“PURPLE” FRUIT SYRUP:
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
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.