Kosher for Easter? Why Not?

Often, we take things for granted that maybe we shouldn’t. One great example is the date. Many of us in the United States assume that today is March 31, 2021, and for us it is. But it isn’t for everybody. According to the Hebrew calendar today is Nissan 18, 5781, and the Islamic calendar has it at 17 Shaban 1442. Let’s not even get into the “Chinese” calendar or the Eastern Orthodox one. Now try combining competing calendars with solstices, equinoxes and lunar phases, as well as contradictory belief systems and things begin to get really confusing. Why is this important? Because this week is one of the most important religious weeks in two major religions. And both of those religious traditions center around both food and drink.

Easter and Passover don’t always line-up (the formulas are ridiculously complicated), but this year they mostly do. Many believe the first Easter cycle was started with a Seder Meal (the Last Supper). In fact, in the Romance languages Easter is rendered as pâques (French) or pasqua (Spanish, Italian) which literally translated means Passover.

Religious discussions aside what this weekend also does do is kick off the Brunch Season, which probably has more to do with the advent of Spring than the religious nature of the holidays. And this particular Spring might be the best Spring ever to celebrate the passing of a plague and the arrival of new hope.

If ever there was an excuse for daytime cocktails, Spring 2021 might have the best argument. In that interest we have taken the liberty of assembling three classic brunch cocktails, all localized (where possible), for your enjoyment. These are sure to satisfy, whether you are celebrating Easter, Passover, or just Sunday April 4, 2021.

Relatively “Kosher” Ramos Fizz

1 ½ ounces 209 Kosher for Passover gin (Distillery 209 in San Francisco)

3 ounces manufacturing cream (or whipping cream, regular milk, or even an alternative “milk”)

1 unshelled raw egg (or 1ounce aquafaba- the water canned garbanzo beans are stored in)

 ¼ ounce fresh squeezed chilled orange juice

 ¼ ounce fresh squeezed lemon juice

½ ounce simple syrup

Fresh grated nutmeg

Orange for zesting

Place raw egg in the bottom of an electric blender, then add all five liquid ingredients and blend on low until smooth (or dry shake in a cocktail mixing glass).

Ramos fizzes can be served with or without ice (and can also be blended with ice). If serving without ice make sure to use a chilled cocktail glass. All versions are dusted with fresh nutmeg and grated orange zest.

Note: Distillery 209 in San Francisco makes both a kosher gin and a kosher vodka specifically for Passover. Alcohol made from fermented grains are not considered kosher, so 209 uses a sugar distillate. 209 also omits cardamom as a flavoring agent (used in their regular gin), which as a pod is also not considered kosher. Kosher orange flower water (the traditional ingredient used instead of orange juice) is available, but good luck finding it.

“Kosher Whiskey” Milk Punch

1 ½ ounces Buffalo Trace Kosher bourbon, rye, or wheat whiskey*

4 ounces whole milk

2 teaspoons simple syrup

1 dash vanilla extract

King Floyd’s Chocolate-cinnamon rimming sugar (King Floyds in Novato

Fresh grated nutmeg

Combine first five ingredients in an electric blender and blend on low until smooth, or dry shake (without ice) in a cocktail shaker. Rim serving glass with chocolate sugar and fill with ice. Blend mixture on medium (or shake) until frothy and then pour over ice in glass. Dash with nutmeg.

*Not all “kosher” is considered “Kosher for Passover.” As with all religious discussions there is much debate. Buffalo Trace’s kosher whiskeys are certified “kosher” by the Chicago Rabbinical Council. Let the debates begin.

Kosheresque Bloody Mary

1 ½ ounces Square One Botanical vodka (Square One Organic Spirits founded in Novato)*

4 ounces organic tomato juice

2 dashes organic Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon prepared kosher horseradish

1 teaspoon fresh squeezed lemon juice

½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1 dash Tabasco

Pinch celery seed

Kosher dill pickle spear

The trick with Bloody Mary’s is to mix the ingredients first before you add the ice, that way everything gets incorporated and you end up with less of a mess. So, in a mixing glass combine first seven ingredients and stir or shake to combine. Fill serving glass with ice and pour in mixture. Garnish with dill pickle.

*Founded by Allison Evanow in Novato, Square One organic vodka originally was certified kosher, but gave up that annual certification when the cost soared to over $20,000 a year. Evanow says, “We are not certified, but Square One is still produced in the same way as it was before, when it was certified. We are definitely not [and were not ever] Passover Kosher based on our base grain, 100 percent organic rye.”

One of the original Bloody Mary’s first derivative was the Red Snapper, a bloody Mary made with gin. Square One Botanical vodka is vodka using many traditional gin botanicals minus the juniper, giving you the best of both worlds, and losing one of the worst cocktail names ever conceived.