Kosher Cocktails

Red wine, bourbon and a twist: an easy way to play the cocktail craze.

Jewish Week Online Columnist
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America is in the midst of a cocktail craze: today, your corner bar is as likely to serve a complex drink accented with house-brewed bitters and fruit syrups as it is to pour a pint. And fresh attention is being paid to spirits: gin and vodka, for example, might have once meant only Seagrams and Absolut, but these days, trendsetting distilleries in places such as Brooklyn are creating complex, pricey liqueurs like handcrafted, small-batch Brooklyn Gin and medium-bodied Brooklyn Republic vodka.

But how does this trend affect the drinking habits of Jews, a group of people not exactly known for its tendency to imbibe?

Jay Buchsbaum, vice president of marketing at Royal Wine Corp., the country’s largest importer of kosher wines as well an importer of spirits and liqueurs, said Jews have been slow to embrace the cocktail trend, but are eager to taste-test the newest wave of kosher wines, whose quality has soared in recent years.

“We’re just at the beginning stages of it,” Buchsbaum said of Jewish interest in finely-crafted cocktails. “Just as we’re still catching up on consumption of wine, it might take a while to catch up to the whole cocktail thing.”

Although Jews are not typically considered heavy alcohol drinkers, wine has always played an important part in our traditions, sipped in celebration of holy events such as weddings, circumcisions and, of course, the Passover seder. So it’s no surprise that the kosher wine marketplace has diversified greatly in recent years to accommodate the tastes of an ever more discerning kosher consumer base.

“There’s been a tremendous increase in quality,” Buchsbaum explained. He attributed much of the advances in kosher wine to Israeli producers, who “are at the cutting edge of technology,” he said, and have raised the bar for producers everywhere.

So considering the Jewish affinity for wine — particularly for red wine — it could be that the best way to approach the cocktail trend is through our very favorite libation. In that spirit (no pun intended), I created a sweet, smoky bourbon and red wine cocktail that’s shaken with just a bit of simple syrup and served with an orange twist. L’chaim!

Lauren Rothman was born, raised and still resides in Brooklyn, New York. Her fondest food memories are of Passovers spent at her Grandma Laura’s table, slurping the best chicken noodle soup with knaydelach and unraveling stuffed cabbage to eat just the filling, please. You can read more of her work on Serious Eats and follow her on Twitter @Lochina186.

Ingredients: 
3 ounces dry, fruity red wine
2 ounces bourbon
2 teaspoons simple syrup (a mix of water and dissolved sugar)
Ice
Orange twist
Recipe Steps: 
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add wine, bourbon and syrup.
Shake until drink is frothy.
Strain into a highball glass.
Garnish with an orange twist and serve.