Until fairly recently, kosher-for-Passover alcoholic alternatives to wine were pretty much limited to young-and-fiery Slivovitz (an acquired taste) or rotgut Israeli vodka or gin. These days, thankfully, there are a growing number of quality kosher-for-Passover spirits, including several kosher-for-Passover Cognacs, liqueurs, kirshwasser, and even quality, boutique-made, kosher-for-Passover gin, vodka, and Slivovitz.
While wine will likely remain the most common alcoholic beverage of choice for Passover — not only the four glasses of wine at each seder, but by the time the festival is over, eight other Shabbat or Yom Tov meals with Kiddush (and wine) — spirits, by themselves, or in cocktails and punches, can help to enliven any festive gathering.
Below are a few easy, Passover-friendly recipes for classic punches and cocktails, none of which require any special equipment beyond an inexpensive cocktail shaker, and any of which should add a nice bit of zing to Passover.
The Gin Daisy
The origins of this drink may date to the late 19th century but don’t let it’s antiquity fool you. The Gin Daisy is a crisp, refreshing beverage with a modern feel, and it makes a very nice aperitif.
¼ cup of Gin (Gin 209 is a good choice)
2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp. Kedem Raspberry Syrup
Slice of lemon (optional)
Place the first three ingredients, in the order listed, into a tall, 8-to-10-ounce, ice-filled tumbler. Stir briskly, top off with seltzer, stir again, and garnish with a slice of lemon.
The Coffee CocktailThe name of this cocktail is not derived from its ingredients, but rather from its color, which, when properly made, is very similar to that of a cup of coffee.
3 tbsp. Cognac (Louis Royer VSOP and Dupuy VSOP are good choices)
3 tbsp. Ruby Port (Porto Cordovero and Porto Quevedi are good choices)
½ tsp. superfine sugar
Place all of the ingredients, with ice, into a cocktail shaker, and shake well for at least a minute. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Although this recipe calls for a raw egg, those who are concerned can omit it from the cocktail. However, the egg helps produce a rich velvety texture and foamy mousse that will be lost if omitted.
This recipe is my modern take on an early-18th-century Brandy punch. While the original version is a still punch, I prefer to make it sparkling. Feel free though to replace the seltzer in the recipe with still water. I find that this punch is good to serve as an after dinner beverage. This recipe, as written, will produce approximately three liters of punch and should serve 12-15.
1 bottle of VS grade Brandy (Louis Royer
VS Cognac, Montaigne *** Cognac, and
Carmel 777 Brandy are all good choices),
¾ cup of raw sugar (Florida Crystals brand
is a good choice)
2 cups of still water, chilled
1 liter of Seltzer, chilled
A block of ice
Using a sharp vegetable peeler, peal four of the lemons, removing as little of the white pith below the skin as possible. Place the lemon peals into a small bowl with the sugar. Muddle the sugar and peals with a wooden spoon and put the bowl someplace warm for an hour. The sugar will draw out the oils from the lemon peals. Juice enough of the lemons to produce ¾ cup of lemon juice (4-5 lemons). After the hour muddle the peal and sugar mixture again, then add lemon juice. Stir until the sugar is wholly dissolved. Then pour the sugar/peal/juice solution into a chilled three-liter punch bowl, mixing bowl or soup tureen. (If you’d like the punch to be clear, you can filter this solution through a few layers of cheesecloth.) Add the brandy and water, and then stir well. Add the seltzer, and the ice, and stir very briefly. Slice the remaining lemons and float the slices as a garnish.
This simple but delicious 19th-century Champagne punch can easily be made in any quantity. I like to serve this punch as part of a luncheon, and will often place the bowl in the center of the table. The recipe, as written, will produce approximately three liters of punch and should serve 10-12 persons.
3 bottles of brut sparkling wine (Bartenura
Prosecco or En Fuego Cava would be good
¾ cup of Kedem raspberry syrup, chilled
3 lemons, freshly juiced
½ cup of raw sugar (Florida Crystals brand
is a good choice)
½ cup of water
½ of a pineapple, pealed cored, and sliced
3 oranges, thinly sliced.
a block of ice
In a small sauce pan, over a medium-low flame, bring the sugar and water to a low simmer, stirring frequently until the sugar is wholly dissolved. Allow this syrup to cool to room temperature and then chill. (You may want make the syrup a day or two in advance; if so, keep refrigerated.) Place the pineapple slices in the bottom of chilled three-liter punch bowl, mixing bowl or soup tureen and smash the slices with your fingers to express some of the juice. Put in the block of ice and add the lemon juice, raspberry syrup, and sugar syrup. Pour in the wine, stir and taste. Float the orange slices on top of the punch as a garnish.
Please note: When making a cold punch one should always use a solid block of ice, at least three or four inches thick on each side. Ice cubes will melt much quicker than a solid block and dilute the punch. To make an ice block simply fill a plastic food container two-thirds filled with water and freeze overnight. Use distilled water to create clearer ice.
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