Sukkot is one of my favorite Jewish holidays. I love sitting outside under the stars with good friends and family, simply enjoying one another’s company.
Because autumn produce is so rich and warm, seasonal cocktails are always a bit more flavorful and complex. Here are some of my go-to recipes for a night in the sukkah.
Cool autumn nights call for a dark and rich cocktail, and few are as dark and rich as the Black Manhattan.
The Black Manhattan is a play on the traditional Manhattan, which has been around since the 1860s. Unlike the original, which relies on vermouth to sweeten and complement the rye, the Black Manhattan uses another Italian liquor, amaro. Amaro means “bitter” in Italian, and it takes this cocktail in a whole different direction.
Luxardo makes a wonderful, medium amaro (not too bitter, not too sweet, very herbal) that’s also certified kosher and works great here. If you’re new to amaro, you might want to change the ratio and use a bit less until you’ve gotten used to its unique flavor.
2 ounces rye whiskey (bourbon will work fine)
1 ounce amaro
1 dash Angostura bitters
1 dash orange bitters
Pour all the ingredients into a mixing glass filled with ice and stir until the outside of the glass fogs up. Strain and pour into a stemmed cocktail glass.
Thai Basil Daiquiri
I love growing herbs and flowers, but I’m terrible at taking care of them. Now that we’re at the end of the summer, I have a massive pot filled with Thai basil that not only has gone to seed, but also has flowered.
Most people would say the basil’s useless now, but it turns out the bitter flavor that comes with going to seed and the flowers is perfect as an addition to the classic daiquiri. This reimagined version is just as sweet with a hint of rich bitterness from the basil on the finish.
2 ounces rum
1 ounce fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon sugar
2 bar spoons (a little more than a splash) water
10 Thai basil leaves
Sprig of basil flowers
Muddle the basil leaves, sugar and water together gently in a shaker. Add the lime juice and rum, fill the shaker with ice, and go to town. Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with a sprig of the basil flowers or a few smashed basil leaves.
This update to the classic Tom Collins takes full advantage of the season’s produce with pears and woody rosemary. You can use any pears you’d like — no need to be particular.
2 ounces gin
¾ ounce rosemary-pear syrup
¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
2 ounces club soda
Combine the gin, syrup and lemon juice in a tall glass with ice and stir. Fill the rest of the glass with soda water and garnish with a small slice of pear.
1½ pears, sliced or chunked (save the other ½ pear for garnish)
1 small sprig of fresh rosemary
¾ cup sugar
1 cup water
Combine the pears, sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and let it simmer until the pears soften. Once they do, add a small sprig of fresh rosemary and simmer for about 10 more minutes. Let the syrup cool, and strain out the solids. The syrup keeps in the fridge for about three weeks and is great for cocktails or even poured over a slice of spice cake.