Passover Cocktails and Spirits

How to imbibe without the sacrifice

For many, Passover is the ultimate exercise in patience.

Not only are observant Jews required to give up anything with flour, most grains, and leavening for a whole eight days, but for two nights we sit through a long series of readings, songs, and rituals before we can even eat the holiday meal, which is followed by more of the same. As a relative once exclaimed, it seems like an awful lot of trouble just to say, "They tried to kill us. We survived. Let’s eat!"

Finding foods that are kosher for Passover during this eight-day stretch is challenging enough. If you enjoy spirits and cocktails, you also have to consider that many are verboten because they are distilled from grains or come in contact with un-kosher barrels during aging. This means, gasp!, no whiskey or bitters. If you’re like me, this is especially tough. Even 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 spirits 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 these may take a little legwork, so check with the producer’s sites or your local retailer for availability. Only Kosher Wine also offers many of them.

Here are a few kosher for Passover tipplers to check out:

- San Francisco’s Distillery No. 209 produces a gin and just unveiled a vodka

- Casa Vieja tequila has an añejo version your bubbe would approve of

- Cognac Louis Royer VSOP

- Binyamina makes several fruit cordials such as limoncello, triple sec, and wishniak (cherry)

- Several brands of Slivovitz (plum brandy) such as Mosby, Rudolf Jelínek, Maraska, and Queen Esther

What do we do with these now that we are free of smoting for drinking them? We have some fun and delicious ideas. A couple require a bit more work than usual, but think of how impressed your guests will be when you tell them the trouble you went through. L’Chaim!

Click here for 5 Passover Cocktail recipes.

— Amanda Schuster,