It’s an exciting year for Jews because Hanukkah, a festival of lights that lasts eight nights, falls over both Christmas and New Year’s Eve. This fortuitous scheduling creates a plethora of opportunities to celebrate, eat copious amounts of fried food, and enjoy some good drinks, too.

Latkes are one of the quintessential foods of Hanukkah. But it has always been my firmly held belief that they are also the perfect party food. First of all, these little fried potato patties are bite-sized. They are also an ideal vehicle for toppings such as creme fraiche, caviar, and guacamole. And even the worst latkes are still delicious. Party on!

These four versions of the classic latke can be paired with complementary cocktails for your New Year’s gathering. Or challenge your guests to come up with their own latke-cocktail pairings and then vote on your favorite.

Potato Latkes with Smoked Salmon and Creme Fraiche Paired with Blood Orange Mimosa

Latkas Pairing

For the latkes:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 Idaho (russet) potatoes
  • 1 small to medium onion
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill or ½ teaspoon dried dill (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 -3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • Creme fraiche for serving
  • Smoked salmon for serving

DIRECTIONS:

  • Peel and cut potatoes and onions in half. Place potatoes, onion, and garlic through food processor for a coarse grate (you can also grate coarsely by hand).
  • Place potato mixture in a large bowl. Add dill, lemon zest, eggs, flour and salt.
  • Heat around ¼ cup vegetable oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Form bite-sized mounds of latkes, taking care not to squeeze too much liquid out of the latkes. Fry until golden brown on each side, then place on a wire rack on top of a baking sheet to cool. Immediately sprinkle with a pinch of salt.
  • When ready to serve, add a piece of smoked salmon to each and a small dollop of creme fraiche (can also substitute sour cream). Garnish with fresh dill and slices of lemon if desired.

Variation: If you want to get really fancy, you can also serve with a small dollop of caviar on top of each latke.

For the cocktail:

  • 1 bottle prosecco, chilled
  • 2-3 cups fresh blood orange juice, chilled
  • Blood orange or orange slices for garnish (optional)

Add chilled juice to a large pitcher. Top with prosecco. Serve with fresh slices of blood orange or orange.

Zucchini Herb Latkes Paired with Gin, Tonic & Muddled Cucumber

Latkas Pairing

For the latkes:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 1 medium Idaho potato
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 eggs
  • 2-3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped dill
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper

DIRECTIONS:

  • Peel zucchini, potato, and onion. Cut each in half. In three or four batches, place vegetables through food processor for a coarse grate (you can also grate coarsely by hand).
  • Place mixture in a large bowl. Add eggs, flour, fresh herbs, and salt.
  • Heat around ¼ cup vegetable oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Form bite-sized mounds of latkes, taking care not to squeeze too much liquid out of the latkes. Fry until golden brown on each side, then place on a wire rack on top of a baking sheet to cool. Immediately sprinkle with a pinch of salt.
  • Serve warm with sour cream and a squeeze of lemon juice if desired.

For the cocktail:

Pair with VinePair’s twist on the classic G&T: the GT&C, or gin and tonic and cucumber.

Beet and Carrot Latkes Paired with Cranberry Rosemary Vodka Punch

Latkas Pairing

For the latkes:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 medium beets
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 medium Idaho potato
  • 2 eggs
  • 2-3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon salt

DIRECTIONS:

  • Peel beets, carrots and potato. Cut each in half. In three or four batches, place vegetables through food processor for a coarse grate (you can also grate coarsely by hand).
  • Place mixture in a large bowl.  Add eggs, flour, thyme and salt.
  • Heat around ¼ cup vegetable oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Form bite-sized mounds of latkes, taking care not to squeeze too much liquid out of the latkes. Fry until brown and crispy on each side, then place on a wire rack on top of a baking sheet to cool. Immediately sprinkle with a pinch of salt.
  • Serve warm with cinnamon applesauce and/or sour cream.

For the cocktail:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 cups cranberry juice
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoon Grand Marnier or triple sec
  • ½ cup rosemary simple syrup
  • 2 ½ cups vodka
  • Fresh cranberries for garnish
  • Rosemary sprigs for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

  • To make the rosemary simple syrup, combine 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar and 4 sprigs of rosemary in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook around 1 minute or until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 month.
  • Combine juices, Grand Marnier, simple syrup, and vodka in a pitcher. Add ice and stir. Serve with fresh cranberries and rosemary for garnish.

Variation: Using square silicon molds, make ice cubes using whole fresh cranberries and rosemary sprigs. Freeze until ready to serve. Instead of using plain ice, use festive cranberry and rosemary ice.

Yucca Latkes with Guacamole Paired with Margarita

Latkas Pairing

For the latkes:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 large yucca
  • 1 medium Idaho potato
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 heaping tablespoon flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ⅛ teaspoon chili powder
  • Your favorite guacamole

DIRECTIONS:

  • Cut ends off yucca. Peel yucca and potatoes and cut each in half. In three or four batches, place vegetables through food processor for a coarse grate (you can also grate coarsely by hand).
  • Place mixture in a large bowl.  Add eggs, flour, salt, cumin and chili powder.
  • Heat around ¼ cup vegetable oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Form bite-sized mounds of latkes, taking care not to squeeze too much liquid out of the latkes. Fry until golden and crispy on each side, then place on a wire rack on top of a baking sheet to cool. Immediately sprinkle with a pinch of salt.

*Note: The yucca will not get as dark as potato latkes, so take care not to overcook them.

Serve warm with your favorite homemade or store-bought guacamole, fresh cilantro and a wedge of lime.

For the cocktail:

Pair with your classic margarita