4 spirited cocktails for Hannukah

Whenever the holiday season rolls around, our thoughts often turn to religious persuasions. The word “holiday” is derived from “holy day” and those holidays seem to bunch up in December.

This year, the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah starts at sundown on Thursday and lasts until sundown on Dec. 15. As holidays go, Hanukkah is not quite as solemn (nor as strict) as Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah or Passover, but it’s still a religious holiday. Depending upon your beliefs, there may, or may not be, different levels of kosher allowed or tolerated. And not everyone agrees. If they did, there wouldn’t be at least five different major kosher certification agencies. I leave all the idiosyncrasies to you and your spiritual advisor. I can only offer “spirit” advice here. So, with that in mind, here are four offerings for the holidays, all localized and kasherized (to the best of my ability) for your consumption.


The Violet Hour

¾ ounces No. 209 Kosher-for-Passover Gin

½ ounce fresh-squeezed Meyer lemon juice

1/8 ounce homemade simple syrup

3 ounces Covenant 2022 Blanc de Blancs sparkling wine

1 teaspoon pea flower tendrils, reserving a small flower for garnish

Combine gin and simple syrup in a mixing glass, add pea flower tendrils and let sit until the desired shade of violet is achieved (this only takes a few seconds). Add ice and strain into a chilled flute glass. Then, carefully add lemon juice in a layer, before adding sparkling wine slowly, in another layer. The violet-colored gin will react with the citrus juice, creating a different layer of purple. Float small flower on top.

Note: Typically, fresh fruits and vegetables are kosher if they haven’t been processed along with non-kosher items, specifically meat or dairy. Store-bought simple syrup may or may not be kosher. It is simple enough to make: 50/50 water to sugar, heated to boiling and then cooled.

You Call That A Martini?

2 ½ ounces No. 209 Kosher-for-Passover Vodka

¾ ounce Kedem Winery dry vermouth

2 dashes Angostura orange bitters

Half a Mt. Olive kosher petite dill pickle

Combine vodka, vermouth and bitters in a shaking glass with ice and shake until cold. Or conversely, combine in a mixing beaker with ice and stir until ice cold. Strain either into a chilled martini glass and garnish with the picked pickle.

Note: A kosher kitchen keeps koshered items separate from non-koshered. It stands to reason that so should a kosher bar. Angostura’s entire line of bitters is kosher certified.

It Is What It Is

2 ounces Covenant Double-Edged Sword Brandy

½ ounce homemade simple syrup

4 dashes Peychaud’s bitters

1 Meyer lemon zest

Combine brandy, simple syrup and three dashes of bitters in a cocktail shaker and shake until cold. Place the last dash of bitters in the bottom of a rocks glass and place large-format ice (cube or sphere) on top. Strain the contents of the cocktail shaker over the ice and garnish with lemon peel.

Note: The original Sazerac cocktail was made with Sazerac de Forge et Fils cognac, which has been discontinued for over 100 years (Sazerac whiskey is a much newer invention). Adding more bitters sort of makes up for the lack of absinthe (there are no kosher versions) in this altered Sazerac recipe. Griffo Distillery in Petaluma makes this brandy for the Berkeley-based Covenant.

Rabbi (based on the classic Bishop cocktail)

2 ounces Buffalo Trace Kosher Wheat Recipe Bourbon

1 ounce Baron Herzog Jeunesse Black Muscat 2021

¼ ounce fresh-squeezed Meyer lemon juice

1 Luxardo cherry

Combine the first three ingredients in a cocktail beaker with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass (preferably a coupe or Nick and Nora glass) and garnish with a picked Luxardo cherry.

Note: Buffalo Trace’s kosher wheated bourbon is the same mashbill typical of most Weller bourbons (and some Pappy Van Winkles). However, this whiskey is aged in specifically kosher barrels. So, much like Pappy or Weller, these whiskeys are delicious, but also quite expensive. Luxardo cherries (imported by Hotaling & Co., formerly Anchor Distilling) are certified kosher by the KLBD.