Bear with us as we take you through a quick history lesson on a different kind of cocktail. This year marks the 75th year of the Molotov cocktail. The decidedly undrinkable incendiary concoction was first deployed during the Winter War of 1939, when Russia and Finland fought a small sideshow to World War II. Long story short, the Soviet Union invaded Finland following a diplomatic disagreement over territorial rights in Finland, which, prior to breaking free in 1918, had belonged to Russia. Vyacheslav Molotov was the Soviet leader who signed a pact with Nazi Germany that ignited the Winter War.
The Finns, fueled by independence and the desire to persevere, gathered all of the resources they could to take on their megalithic war foe. They turned to small firebombs, known as the “poor man’s hand grenade,” to wage war against Soviet armor. The Finnish alcohol monopoly, Alko took on the production of these firebombs, ultimately making some 450,000 over the course of the short war. Alko’s Rajamäka distillery was one of the main producers of the bottled firebombs (an improvement over the jam jar firebombs used during the Spanish Civil War).
The Soviets deployed cluster bombs on Finland. Through propaganda, Molotov assured the public that these bombs were really food parcels. Finnish soldiers and civilians thus called them Molotov’s Bread Baskets. When the time came for the Finns to retaliate, they decided to send a “drink” to go with the breadbaskets, thus launching Molotov cocktails at the enemy. Although Rajamäka and many other Alko production sites made vodka — and continue to do so today — it was not the main ingredient for the lethal bombs. The Molotov mixture consisted of ethanol, tar and gasoline.
Bartender Taylor Clark of The Vault helped us concoct a vodka-based cocktail that honors the incendiary power of resistance in order to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the brash, brazen and burning Molotov cocktail. Meet The Rebel.
3 cucumber slices
1 slice of jalapeño pepper
1½ ounces vodka
1 ounce triple sec
1 ounce jalapeño-infused simple syrup
½ ounce Pama Pomegranate Liqueur
Pomegranate seeds and jalapeño slice for garnish
Muddle the cucumber and jalapeño slice in a tall glass. Add ice. Build the drink with the rest of the ingredients. Shake, and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with pomegranate seeds and jalapeno slice.