Growing up in a Jewish household gifts you have many anecdotes to share at a not strictly kosher – I said strictly, OK? – dinner party. You can talk about the scientific differences between regular best friends and camp best friends, why learning twelve years worth of Hebrew has still left you embarrassingly unilingual, and the unique libations you’ve sipped along the way. Yes, Judaism is pretty into wine (there are entire laws dedicated to it), but if you grew up in a mezuzah-adorned home, you know there’s more to the religion than vino. For instance…
1. Jack Daniel’s
I know what Jack Daniel’s is, not because of college, but because I grew up watching old men in synagogue (shul for the MOT’s here) drink it. I don’t know why Jack was their refreshment of choice, but I always saw them sip some of the Tennessee whiskey between services.
The high rollers in the building would bring out expensive Scotch. Believe it or not, there are a lot of kosher certified Scotches out there, and they are the fancy Friday night gifts of choice.
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3. Kedem Grape Juice
Otherwise known as crack for children at kiddush. Mixed with Fresca, it’s irresistible.
Only slightly more alcoholic than Kedem grape juice, the blue bottle Moscato is the no-brainer offering to bring to your friend’s house when you’re sleeping over on shabbat. Bartenura is also my grandma’s wine of choice.
5. Shoko BeSakit
Translates to “chocolate in the bag.” This is, appropriately, chocolate milk in a bag – a commonality in Israel. When Jewish students make their first pilgrimage to the holy land in high school, they’ve only heard of this strange, unicorn of a drink discussed in hushed tones from older students. By the end of the trip, they’re hooked.
6. Potato Vodka
I purposely did not lead this article with Manischewitz, because it’s become a false representative of all kosher wine. There’s a lot more than Manischewitz, OK? That being said, we all drank Manischewitz at one point. Usually, we felt like huge rebels for doing so underage. We did not know the joke was on us.
8. Turkish Coffee
Typically consumed after a meal of shawarma. Points if you drank it without gagging.
9. Mint Tea
This one is for all my Moroccan, Tunisian, and Persian friends. Real mint tea is a delicious treat. I’m talking real leaves in the tea, not a two-bit tea bag. Which brings me to my next drink…
10. Wissotzky Tea
This tea comes in a million different tempting flavors. But it’s a trap! It’s so bad. Just bland. Dry. But I will still drink it faithfully, because as a Jew, I value my traditions.
11. Prigat Juice
That super nice Hebrew teacher always brought this to class parties, along with imitation Oreo cookies. The banana flavor of Prigat was particularly delicious. Still waiting for banana juice to come to the U.S.
This is a type of plum brandy, and hey, it’s actually not bad. It’s often certified kosher-for-Passover, and it makes an interesting addition to cocktails. And it’s typically high in alcohol, perfect for getting through a long seder.
13. Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray Soda
For some reason, this celery flavored soda seems to only be available at Jewish delis and Passover programs. It straddles the line between repulsive and somewhat refreshing.
Seltzer is the tap water at Eastern European Jewish homes everywhere.
15. That One Surprisingly Kosher Spirit
Sometimes, you’ll buy an obscure, hand-crafted brandy made in Wyoming or something and discover that it’s kosher. You’re not sure why, you’re not sure how, but you are sure that you’ll be bringing it to the next family meal and impressing the shit out of everyone else.