Kosher Spirits for Passover

This year, local distillers No. 209 set out to become the first to offer a certified Kosher-For-Passover gin and vodka. Both are on offer at Wingtip now, and, though Passover ends Tuesday, these spirits will continue to anchor delicious cocktails long after. So, how do you create a grain-free, Kosher-certified gin and vodka? Here’s their description of how they did it:

A new chapter in Kosher for Passover Spirits

“In order for observant Jews to have cocktails they could enjoy over Passover, founder Leslie Rudd asked No. 209 Ginerator, Arne Hillesland, and associate winemaker Jonathan Hadju from Kosher Covenant Wines to develop a vodka that was the same superior quality as our gins and strictly adhered to Kosher-for- Passover standards.

Kosher for Passover Gin

“We knew that it was not a simple feat since Kosher standards preclude using any grain based spirit, and additionally, several key botanicals are not Passover approved. But we love a challenge…so Arne fired up the still and his creativity during “the gin trials” to discover innovative Passover approved herbs and spices, and under the supervision of the Orthodox Union, created a new gin recipe that has a remarkable modern taste profile using a sugar cane base spirit. It debuted for Passover 2010 and was very well received. In fact, we have several restaurants who stock it year round because their customers drink it, not for religious reasons, but because they love the taste.

Juniper, which by law is required to be the dominant flavor in any gin, is only one of dozens of different spices, roots, herbs and berries that can be used to flavor gin. Each combination creates a unique flavor. In addition to juniper (Tuscany), the recipe for No. 209 Kosher-for-Passover Gin includes somewhere between eight and eleven different botanicals that all adhere strictly to Kosher dietary law. The complexity of this Passover in- spired gin is primarily the result of bergamot orange (Calabria), California bay leaf (Napa Valley), lemon peel (Spain), cassia bark (Indonesia), angelica root (United Kingdom) and coriander seeds (Romania). California Bay leaf and a variety of other botanicals were used in lieu of cardomom to recreate the flavor profile of the standard No. 209 Gin, while still adhering to Kosher dietary law.

Kosher for Passover Vodka

“Kosher dietary law prohibits the consumption of leavened grains, and spirits fermented from grains, during Passover. Thus, master distiller Arne Hillesland crafts No. 209 Kosher-for-Passover Vodka using a sugarcane base spirit. The four times, column-distilled base spirit is filtered through activated charcoal specifically formulated for the production of the purest vodka, and combined with snowmelt from Sierra Nevada Mountains to create a vodka with a surprising sweetness across the palate and a dry, clean finish. In order to receive the loftier “Kosher-for-Passover” designation, Distillery No. 209 enlists its rabbinical friends at the Orthodox Union to supervise and certify the vodka’s production at the Pier 50 facility in San Francisco.”

Be Sociable, Share!


David is Wingtip's storyteller. In addition to editing the Modern Gentleman's Blog, he has written for Wax Poetics, The Source, SF Weekly, and the East Bay Express, and others. His inspirations include Rumble Fish, Paul's Boutique, and Balzac. He studied English at the City University of New York at Hunter College and journalism at the University of Southern California. He lives in Berzerkeley with his wife and daughter.

Submit a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *