For most Americans, December brings about visions of trees adorned with ornaments and stars, carolers, and a jolly old man in a red suit. And for those who love cocktails, it also conjures up dreams of spiked eggnog, mulled wine, and hot buttered rum. Yet those of us celebrating Hanukkah have winter traditions that are a bit different — so why shouldn’t our cocktails be?
From bubbly libations to pair with all things fried, to cocktails that mimic the flavors of some of our favorite Hanukkah foods, read on for eight cocktail recipes to make and drink on each night of Hanukkah.
As it’s tradition to gift and eat gelt (chocolate coins) on this holiday, a decadent, chocolatey drink is the ideal companion for lighting the rightmost candle on the Menorah. To make it, combine brandy, creme de cacao, and cream in a shaker, strain into a coupe glass, and garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.
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On night two, try out the cocktail that may just solve the age-old Hanukkah dilemma: Should you dip your latkes in sour cream or apple sauce? While I’m partial to the latter, this cocktail ensures you can have all the flavors you love at once. Dip your latkes in sour cream and sip on this cocktail, which combines bourbon, apple cider, lemon, agave, egg white, and cinnamon. With its flavors of spiced apple, it will surely satisfy your hankering for holiday applesauce.
The tale of Hanukkah is complicated, but long story short, we’re celebrating oil lasting eight days when it should only have lasted one. That’s why on this holiday, we eat all things fried to glistening perfection — from potato latkes to jelly doughnuts. The third night of Hanukkah is the perfect time to try your hand at fat washing, or adding oil to a spirit, freezing the mixture, and skimming the fat off the top to use in your cocktail. This drink combines fat-washed bourbon with Hennessy Black, Benedictine, and Bittermens Xocolatl Mole bitters for a cocktail that accurately celebrates this holiday.
Love freshly made sufganiyot but don’t have a deep fryer? On the fourth night of Hanukkah, try out this cocktail instead. Combine rye, raspberry brandy, Giffard Framboise, lime, honey syrup, and Angostura bitters for a cocktail that tastes like the inside of a jelly doughnut. If you’re really in the Hanukkah spirit, you can fat wash the rye.
Prefer bourbon to rye? This fruit-filled cocktail recipe may also satisfy your second sufganiyot craving, as it’s even made with jam. Combine bourbon, lemon juice, raspberries, and the fruit preserve of your choosing for a bright and easy cocktail made with ingredients you may already have in your fridge or can find easily at the grocery store. We have no doubt that this cocktail will be the best gift you receive on night five of Hanukkah, even if you give it to yourself.
Every VinePair reader knows by now that fried foods and sparkling wines make many great pairings. And this riff on the classic French 75, with its mixture of sparkling wine and apple flavors, begs to be sipped with all the Hanukkah favorites. On night six, combine Calvados, lemon juice, simple syrup, and sparkling wine such as Cava or Prosecco for a cocktail to combine with present opening (and, of course, snacking).
This boozy sipper will have you spinning like a dreidel on the seventh night of Hanukkah. Combine aged Scotch with cinnamon-infused agave (or just agave and cinnamon), and Angostura bitters, and garnish with an orange peel. This is a great cocktail to sip while recounting the story of Hanukkah and spinning dreidels with your younger family members. You’re the cool aunt/uncle/cousin, remember?
This riff on the Hot Toddy is almost as fiery as the Menorah on the final night of Hanukkah. To make it, combine boiling water with cinnamon whiskey (Fireball, obviously), apple brandy, turbinado simple syrup, and lemon bitters. This cocktail may or may not cure your winter cold, but it will surely warm you up quicker than the funky socks your family gets you for the holiday … again.