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A handy cocktail and spirits guide for your Passover seder

Classic Daiquri / Photo by Beth McKibben

Classic Daiquri / Photo by Beth McKibben

Atlanta’s Jewish community is preparing for Passover beginning at sundown on Friday, April 22. The spring festival kicks off with family and friends gathering around the table for a seder dinner to celebrate the Israelites’ freedom from slavery with readings, traditional foods and plenty of drinking; four glasses of wine to be exact. If you’re looking to mix things up with cocktails at your festival feast this year, we’ve got good news which could transform your rocks glass.

While you’ll still need to abstain from consuming the five grains (wheat, rye, barley, oats and spelt,) a recent reversal of an 800-year ban on kitniyot (corn, rice, peanuts and legumes) by the Conservative Movement opens up the liquor cabinet to a world of seder cocktail possibilities for many Jews. It also opens up a Pandora’s box full of questions for those wishing to update traditions without forsaking them completely. We turned to Jewish educator and Chair of Religious Life at Congregation Shearith Israel, Robbie Medwed, for help understanding what this rule reversal means for your cocktail glass during Passover.

“For even the strictest of observers, kosher cognac, brandy, potato vodka (non-grain), amaretto, 100% sugar-cane rum and 100% agave tequila are available. Sorry, no gin. There’s only one kosher variety, and it’s tough to find,” Medwed said of the already approved Passover spirits list.

With the new ruling, an entirely new category of previously prohibited spirits emerges–corn, in particular, whiskey and many brands of vodka, too,

“With the advent of non-grain whiskies, suddenly a whole new world of Passover-friendly cocktails has become available. It certainly makes preparing and observing the holiday much easier as there are so many more categories of food and drink that can be consumed.”

But sorry, y’all, bitters are still a no-no in your cocktails during Passover.

While Medwed believes many traditional Jewish people will not change their Passover practices, for those who are open to interpreting the new rule for modern times, he suggests doing a little homework. Read the ingredients labels. Call or visit the distillers if possible. Ask questions about finishing and aging processes. While many ingredients labels may seem A-OK, checking with distillers directly can bring that fine print into focus.

“Many spirits are finished with grain alcohols. That’s why people tend to rely on kosher certifications to ensure they’re good, but there are only a few certified kosher liquors available.”

If you’re running out of time to do your cocktail and spirits homework before Friday’s seder, never fear, we’ve compiled a quick list for your sipping pleasure.

Happy Passover.

 

Whiskey (100% corn or sorghum. Not aged or finished in any of the five grains)

New Southern Revival Sorghum Whiskey (made in South Carolina)

Tower Wine and Spirits, 2161 Piedmont Road NE, Atlanta. 404-881-0902, towerwinespirits.com

Hudson New York Corn Whiskey

Total Wine and More, 380 North Point Circle, Alpharetta. 770-772-0694, totalwine.com

 

Tequila (100% agave)

Espolon Blanco

Olmeca Altos Silver

Tower Wine and Spirits, 2161 Piedmont Road NE, Atlanta. 404-881-0902. 5877 Buford Hwy NE, Doraville. 770-458-3272, towerwinespirits.com

 

Rum (100% sugar cane; if it says “spiced”, just say no)

Richland Rum Single Estate (made in Georgia)

Tower Wine and Spirits, 2161 Piedmont Road NE, Atlanta. 404-881-0902.

Green’s, 737 Ponce De Leon Ave. NE, Atlanta. 404-872-1109, greensbeverages.com

Total Wine and More, 124 Perimeter Center West, Atlanta. 770-395-1678, totalwine.com

Clement Canne Bleue Rhum

Tower Wine and Spirits, 2161 Piedmont Road NE, Atlanta. 404-881-0902, towerwinespirits.com

 

Vodka

Tito’s (corn-based)

Boyd and Blair Potato Vodka

Grand Teton Potato Vodka

Tower Wine and Spirits, 2161 Piedmont Road NE, Atlanta. 404-881-0902, towerwinespirits.com

Deep Eddy (unflavored, corn-based)

Total Wine and More, 380 North Point Circle, Alpharetta. 770-772-0694, totalwine.com

 

Disclaimer: While we did our best to ensure and feel all the rules (both old and new) were followed through ingredients research and chats with distillers, without a personal visit, we can’t be 100% sure.

 

Replace those four glasses of wine during your seder with these four Passover-approved cocktails.

 

Brown Derby

  • 2 oz. whiskey
  • 1 oz. grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 oz. honey syrup (equal parts honey and water)
  • Grapefruit wedge or twist, for garnish

 

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Add ice. Shake, and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with grapefruit wedge or twist.

 

Classic Daiquiri

  • 2 oz. rum
  • 1 oz. fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water)
  • Chilled cocktail glass

 

Fill a cocktail glass with ice to chill. Meanwhile, add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Add ice. Shake to chill. Discard of the ice in the cocktail glass and strain shaker into glass.

 

Paloma

  • 2 oz. tequila
  • 1 oz. grapefruit juice
  • 3/4 oz. fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. simple syrup
  • Top with soda water
  • Grapefruit wedge, for garnish

 

Fill a collins glass with tequila, grapefruit juice, lime juice and simple syrup. Stir. Add ice, and top with soda water. Garnish with grapefruit wedge.

 

Margarita

  • 2 oz. tequila
  • 1 oz. fresh lime juice
  • 1 oz. agave syrup (one part agave nectar, one part water)
  • Lime wheel, for garnish

 

Fill a rocks glass with ice to chill. Meanwhile, add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Add ice. Shake to chill. Discard of the ice in the rocks glass and fill with fresh ice. Strain shaker into glass. Garnish with lime wheel.

 

MORE

4 of the best classic cocktails in Atlanta

What’s that weird ingredient in my cocktail?

Check out 5 of Atlanta’s most iconic diver bars

Drink amaro. It’ll change your life – or at least your cocktail

 

Click here to read the AJC’s Ultimate Guide to Brunch in Atlanta

Click here to read about dining in Atlanta around the clock

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