Passover Spirits

Passover, the traditional Jewish holiday, has many rules and traditions. One of the rules is that Jews must clean their house of leavened bread and fermented grains (chametz) before the holiday. Indeed, many believe the search into every nook and cranny for tiniest crumb is the origin of Spring Cleaning. The rule against chametz has, for a long time, been a rule against many spirits during Passover. Now, though, there are several fine spirits offered for pre-Seder cocktails. Two recent additions come from Distillery 209 in San Francisco. The No. 209 Kosher for Passover Gin and N. 209 Kosher for Passover Vodka were each tasted neat, in a very dry (5 to 1) martini, and with tonic.

No. 209 Kosher for Passover Vodka

Made in San Francisco from pure cane sugar and snowmelt from the Sierra Nevadas, distillation is supervised and certified by the Orthodox Union as Kosher for Passover. The nose is clean and neutral. On the palate, too, is is neutral, with a pleasant bite with a hint of pepper. In a very dry martini the cleanness of the vodka really shone through, allowing the rich flavors of the vermouth to shine through, even in such small amounts. The vodka barely flavored the tonic, making an easy-drinking (but potentially dangerous – remember there’s vodka in there, folks) vodka tonic.

No. 209 Kosher for Passover Vodka is very good, kosher or not, a clean, neutral spirit that will fit well with any vodka cocktail. Highly Recommended (90).

No. 209 Kosher for Passover Gin

Gin is a challenge to keep kosher for Passover. Juniper is permitted but cardamom is not. No. 209 flavored this pure cane sugar spirit with juniper from Tuscany, bergamot orange from Calabria, bay leaf from Napa Valley, Spanish lemon peel, Indonesian cassia bark, Romanian coriander seeds, and angelica root from the U.K.

Juniper shows through, but lightly, on the nose. On the palate, though, the herbs and spices really pop. Bergamot and cassia bark give exotic citrus and spice, lemon peel lingers on the finish. In a dry martini the citrus, orange and lemon, take a strong lead, with the exotic spices taking the role of backup singers doing harmony. With tonic, but no lime, spices and herbs come through. With a spritz of lime the citrus comes to the fore.

This is a delightfully complex gin, one that brings exotic flavors in waves. Buy it for Passover but drink it year around. Highly Recommended (93).