Let The Spirits Move You
Thu, 03/03/2011
Special To The Jewish Week

When it comes to drinking on Passover, wine is obviously the primary beverage. Not only does one drink four glasses of wine at each seder, but by the time the festival is over there will be eight other Shabbat or Yom Tov meals, with Kiddush (and wine) as a part of each of them. That’s a lot of wine.

So as a change of pace, I often like to serve spirits and cocktails during Passover. While the phrase “kosher-le’-Pesach spirits” may invoke memories of rotgut Slivovitz and bad sugar cane vodka, thankfully, today there are a growing number of quality kosher-for- Passover spirits that can be used in cocktails, including several cognacs, tequila and a boutique gin.

Cognac is a good choice both for sipping and for use in cocktails, and while there are many good cognacs, my personal favorite moderately priced selection is Louis Royer’s V.S.O.P. Cognac, smooth, medium-bodied, and chestnut-colored with flavors and aromas of caramel, mocha, figs, cinnamon, cardamom and allspice.

If cocktails are your thing, then a bottle of Distillery 209’s kosher-for-Passover gin would be a good investment. Made at Leslie Rudd’s Distillery 209, located on the San Francisco waterfront, this smooth, supple gin has a nose of juniper and citrus, with a whiff of spice. Look for flavors of juniper, dried orange peel and coriander seed on the palate, with a nice hint of allspice on the finish.

Those seeking a good kosher-for-Passover liqueur should consider Binyamina’s Limoncello. This cloudy, pale-yellow liqueur has flavors and aromas of lemon zest, lemon juice, and sugar. Simple but well balanced, this liqueur would make a good digestif.

While Passover’s dietary requirements are by their very nature restrictive, the addition of luxury goods, such as a bottle or two of spirits, to the menu can make those restrictions seem less severe. So when you head out to buy wine for Passover, think about picking up some kosher-for-Passover spirits. You won’t regret it.

 Cocktails

Cocktails are an easy addition to the Passover menu. In addition to spirits all you need is a cocktail shaker, measuring spoons, juice, sweeteners, and ice. Below are some easy, Passover-friendly recipes for cocktails, all of which should add a nice bit of zing to your Passover.

The Brandy Daisy

This pleasant 19th-century cocktail is tart, refreshing, and easy to make.

 3 tbsp. Cognac
4 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp. Kedem Raspberry Syrup

Place all of the ingredients with ice into a cocktail shaker and shake well. Strain into a chilled martini glass.

The Clover Club Cocktail

This gin-based cocktail was named for — and first served to — the Clover Club, a late-19th-century organization of Philadelphia society rakes which was somewhat similar in nature to New York’s Algonquin Round Table.

¼ cup 209 Gin
2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp. Kedem Raspberry Syrup
1 egg white

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.

 The Coffee Cocktail

The 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
3 tbsp. Porto Cordovero Ruby Port
½ tsp. superfine sugar
1 egg

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.

 The Salty Chihuahua

This tequila variation of the Salty Dog is a good hot weather drink.

¼ cup Casa Vieja Anejo Tequila
3/8 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
salt

Rub the outer lip of an 8-ounce tumbler with grapefruit juice and dip into
a bowl of salt. Fill the glass with ice and add the tequila and juice. Stir well.

The Tom Collins:

This late-19th-century variation of an early-19th-century punch (the original named for John Collins, the one-time bartender at London’s Limmer’s Hotel) is a simple but always refreshing drink.

3 tbsp. 209 Gin
4 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp. superfine sugar
1 orange slice
seltzer or club soda

Place the gin, juice and sugar into a cocktail shaker, with ice, and shake well for at least a minute. Strain into an ice filled tumbler, fill with seltzer or club soda, and stir briefly. Garnish with a slice of orange.

Please note: Two of the recipes call for raw egg; those who are concerned about ingesting the raw egg can omit it from the recipes. However, in both cocktails the egg helps produce a rich velvety texture and foamy mousse that will be lost if omitted.