Don't Passover the Cocktails

Red Sea Sour
Red Sea Sour

Passover can be the ultimate exercise in patience. For a whole eight days, observant Jews are required to give up anything with flour, most grains and leavening. Then, for two nights, sit through a long series of readings, songs and rituals before eating anything of substance, followed by more of the same. As a relative once exclaimed, seems like an awful lot of trouble just to say, “They tried to kill us. We survived. Let’s eat!”

In modern society, it’s a challenge to find foods that are Kosher for Passover that are filling and pleasurable. It’s even more challenging if you’re thirsty. Most spirits are distilled from grains or come in contact with un-kosher barrels during aging. This means, gasp! No whiskey or bitters. Even some certifiably kosher spirits aren’t allowed for Passover because of their base makeup.

There are certain spirits that may not be labeled as kosher, but do fit within the Pesach guidelines. These include un-aged fruit brandies, un-aged agave (like blanco or silver tequila or joven mezcal, just be sure there was no barrel aging at all) and vodka or gin, as long as it’s made entirely from potatoes or fruit.

Luckily, there are a few Pesach-approved boozes for that ultimate guarantee. Be sure to check labels for the “Kosher for Passover” statement as some of these brands offer more than one version of the same product. Finding them may take a little legwork, so check with the producer’s sites or your local retailer for availability. Only Kosher Wine also offers a wide selection.

So now you can drink without smoting your first born! Here are a couple of ways to enjoy some Passover cocktails:

Red Sea Sour

This involves making a syrup reduction out of sweet Kosher wine (such as Kedem or Manischewitz.) It’s worth it, and you can even use extra sauce for that flourless cake!

2 oz Distillery No. 209 Kosher for Passover gin (or other suitable dry gin)

¾ oz Sweet Wine Syrup (recipe follows)

¾ oz fresh lemon juice

lemon zest for garnish (optional)

Shake all ingredients except garnish with ice well to combine. Strain into chilled coupe or cocktail glass. Garnish if desired, you’ve worked so hard already.

Sweet Wine Syrup

se 1 cup sweet Kosher wine, preferably concord grape

¼ cup sugar

Heat the ingredients in a small saucepan over low heat until sugar dissolves and mixture develops syrupy consistency. Let cool. This can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to a week.

Charoset Shlappe

Shlappe is the Yiddish derivation of the word that eventually morphed into the vernacular “jalopy.” See? For you, a little education. So this recipe is, you guessed it, a kosher riff on the Sidecar with the spiced apple flavors of the charoset from the Seder plate.

2 oz Cognac Louis Royer VSOP (or other brandy)

1 ½ oz apple juice (or to booze it up, 1 oz apple brandy)

½ oz lemon juice

¼ - ½ oz honey (depending on desired level of sweetness)

cinnamon stick

Add all ingredients except the cinnamon to a cocktail shaker with ice and shake until well combined. Strain into chilled coupe or cocktail glass. Finish by grating a bit of the cinnamon over the drink using a microplane or very fine grater (this is better than just dumping powdered cinnamon over the top, which tends to clump. Who wants clumpy cinnamon?)

The Simple Son Rises

An ode to that poor, misunderstood member of the Four Sons of the Haggadah (and my favorite illustration in my family’s 1950s text). This takes the Tequila Sunrise cocktail and not only makes it drinkable for the holiday, but more so in general.

2 oz Casa Vieja blanco tequila (or another blanco or silver)

¾ oz Binyamina triple sec (or other orange liqueur)

¾ oz fresh orange juice

½ oz fresh lemon juice

*¼ - ½  oz simple syrup (optional, for added sweetness. Some prefer more tart.)

couple barspoons of Sweet Wine Syrup or sugar-based grenadine, such as Employees Only.

Shake all ingredients with ice except the syrup and/or grenadine to combine. Strain into a lowball glass half-filled with ice. Using a bar spoon, float the syrup or grenadine over the top, don’t stir. Serve.

A version of this article by the same author also appears at