When it comes to wine and Judaism, only one word comes to mind: Manischewitz. At some point, we’ve all spent time mocking the sweet, concord grape nectar that gave most Jews their first hangover some time after their bar or bat mitzvahs. However, it seems that these days, the application of this wine in the world of cocktails and beverages may end those jokes.
Today, sweet wines are typically served after meals in the form of Muscats and Ports, but for decades, Jews have been using this brand as a staple for Kiddush during Shabbat dinners and other holidays. With it’s sweet taste and low price point, Manischewitz is a natural fit for cocktails. We scoured the country and asked some of the top talent in the bar scene to craft some tasty Manischewitz cocktails to spice up your Shabbat dinner.
With recipes like these, how could you not break out a bottle, mix a few cocktails and drink L’chaim to the summertime?
One of my favorite things about Jewish holidays is their vivid food symbolism. On Purim, this typically translates into triangular foods, like hamantaschen and kreplach, which represent Haman’s hat, pockets or ears, depending on who you ask. And, while Purim the is one of the few Jewish holidays that encourages drinking, that symbolism has yet to make its way into beverages. So this year, I’m getting in the spirit by concocting some holiday-inspired cocktails to serve up to my friends.
There are varying interpretations on exactly how drunk one should get on Purim, but the general idea is to get drunk enough that you cannot tell the difference between the hero Mordechai and his nemesis Haman. The Book of Esther even commences with a 180-day drinking festival. The biblical drink of choice would be wine, but it’s high time that Purim swills got a modern facelift.
Since Queen Esther is the heroine of the Purim tale, I wanted to invent a cocktail in her honor. The Esther Cocktail starts with pomegranate juice, since the arils of the fruit are reminiscent of the jewels in Esther’s crown. I added rose water, a common Persian ingredient, as an homage to the setting of the tale. Finally, a date honey and poppy seed rim makes for a nod to hamantaschen, as well as a dramatic presentation.
At first glance one might assume that a Sipping Seder, made up of six potent cocktails inspired by the Seder plate, is simply the grown up equivalent of the primary school’s set’s chocolate Seder — an excuse to over indulge, or a means to induce an alcoholic haze to counter the stress of a family Seder. Or perhaps, the maror and shank bone inspired drinks are simply the latest in the long line of Jewish kitsch.
But to meet the creators of this newest Passover culinary innovation is to quickly understand that kitsch, humor and pandering were the furthest things from the minds of Rob Corwin and Danny Jacobs, two serious cocktail enthusiasts. Outsiders may be oblivious, but their cocktail creations are cultural expressions with historic and social value. That seriousness played out in every stage of developing the recently launched Sipping Seder.