By Robbie Medwed
There are some folks who celebrate the holiday of Sukkot for its biblical roots; they connect to the pilgrimage festival and all of its laws as a matter of form and obligation. The technicalities and specifics of building a kosher sukkah enthrall them, as do the conversations regarding just how far the fabric walls can blow in the wind before they’re considered no longer kosher.
And then there are those who simply enjoy spending time with family in a beautiful setting under the stars.
No matter how or why you observe Sukkot, everyone can enjoy a great cocktail as they celebrate the season. Here are four autumn-ready cocktails that are great for a fancy night of entertaining or a casual night with family.
Atlanta’s own Monday Night Brewing recently obtained its kashrut certification from the Atlanta Kosher Commission. Its Scotch ale, Drafty Kilt, is a fantastic choice for a cool autumn night. It’s even better mixed with bourbon, citrus and spices.
2 ounces bourbon
½ ounce orange juice
½ ounce lemon juice
½ ounce honey syrup*
Muddled orange peel or orange bitters**
2 taps each ground cinnamon and ground cloves
Top with Monday Night Drafty Kilt
Place the orange peel, spices and honey syrup in the bottom of a shaker and muddle with a muddler or the back of a spoon. Add the bourbon, citrus juice and ice, and shake well. Pour into a rocks glass with a large ice cube and top with the beer.
* Honey syrup: Heat equal parts honey and water in a saucepan until fully blended. Cool and store in the fridge; it will keep for about 3 weeks.
** Orange bitters: Drop 2 oranges’ worth of peels into a container and cover with overproof grain alcohol. Let that sit for 3 or 4 days, and you’ll have some simple orange bitters/extracts that can be used for cocktails and baking.
Muscadines are the South’s local grape variety — you might also know them as scuppernongs — and they’re in season now. They’re sweeter and more flavorful than regular grapes. You should be able to find them at any of the local farmers markets or even grocery stores.
Mezcal is a fantastic Mexican spirit that’s enjoying newfound fame. (Tequila is a variety of mezcal.) Look for a bottle that says “espadin.”
Just like scotch and other spirits, mezcal is inherently kosher and does not need certification unless other flavors have been added. Beware, though: Avoid bottles that say “pechuga”; those are definitely not kosher.
If you’re wary of mezcal, you can sub tequila, but the cocktail won’t have the incredible smoke flavor mezcal brings.
2 ounces espadin mezcal
1 ounce grapefruit juice
¾ ounce muscadine syrup*
Combine all of the ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake well. Strain and pour into a coupe or other stemmed glass.
* Muscadine syrup: Combine 2 cups of muscadines with 2 cups of water and 1½ cups of sugar. Bring that mixture to a boil for about 10 minutes, and use a potato masher to crush the grapes. Cool and strain the entire mixture through a very fine strainer or with cheesecloth. The syrup will last in the fridge for 2-3 weeks.
As much as many of us would like for autumn in the South to be cooled by crisp air, it usually still feels a bit like the end of summer. This classic cocktail is a perfect fit for a night that’s still a bit too warm but hints longingly at fall.
2 ounces gin
½ ounce lemon juice
½ ounce honey syrup
Pour all the ingredients into a large glass with ice and stir well. Strain and serve in a coupe or other stemmed glass and garnish with a twist of lemon.
Apple Bourbon Sangria
We all have that one bottle of red wine we just can’t bring ourselves to drink because it’s just, well, not good. That bottle was made for this recipe, and this recipe is made to serve a crowd.
Pretty much any bottle of red wine will work, as will almost any fruit of your choosing. I like to start here, then mix things up depending on what I have. Use this recipe as a guide rather than a strict list.
The only rule: This has to be made in advance — as little as one day, as much as a few days.
1 bottle red wine
1 orange, cut into thin wedges
1 large Bartlett pear (or pear variety of your choice), sliced into thin wedges
1 large honeycrisp apple (or apple variety of your choice), sliced into thin wedges
2 tablespoons whole cloves
6 3-inch cinnamon sticks
1 cup bourbon
½ cup apple juice
Soda water and ice to top, optional
Slice all the fruit and throw the pieces into a pitcher. To minimize straining as you’re serving, stick all of the cloves into one or two of the orange wedges to keep them from floating around. Add all of the liquids and stir. Let the mixture sit in the fridge for at least a day.
It’s traditional to serve sangria over ice with a splash of soda and some pieces of fruit in the glass. I personally like my sangria without the ice or soda, but you can find what works best for you.