A More Spiritual Spirit

The world's first kosher-for-Passover gin
Dean & Deluca

The drinking options at the seder table keep getting better and better.

In the dark ages, the only option was sticky-sweet Manischewitz. Then a quality revolution gripped the wine world, and the seder's ceremonial cups became less of a trial and more of a pleasure.

Now, thanks to Distillery No. 209's new Passover-friendly gin, spirits lovers have something to celebrate.

To make kosher gin a reality, master distiller Arne Hillesland replaced No. 209's usual base spirit with a sugarcane vodka from a kosher-for-Passover distillery in South Africa.

Hillesland further altered his recipe by replacing cardamom (a no-no for Passover, since the herb comes in a pod) with California bay leaf, which has a strong menthol flavor. The resulting gin is similar to the standard 209, but the kosher version has a slightly sharper flavor and more viscous mouthfeel.

The costly process of making a kosher alternative--which includes hiring a mashgiach (a kosher supervisor) to oversee production--raises the price to $39 a bottle, about $4 more than the regular No. 209. But so far people have been willing to pay the premium: Hillesland says sales have been brisk.

So this year, have a martini (or one of these cocktails) with your matzo brei. Just remember to mix it with kosher-for-Passover vermouth--yes, it does exist.

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