Celebrate Passover with a Sipping Seder


[Photographs: The Sipping Seder]

The Passover seder is steeped in tradition: gathering together with your family (or friends), pulling out your grandmother's seder plate, stirring up the charoset and singing the same songs you sang last year.

But cocktail enthusiasts Rob Corwin and Danny Jacobs have proposed a new kind of a seder to explore the story of Passover, with a cocktail to represent every symbolic element on the seder plate.


For maror, the first bitter herb, they created a "borscht martini," with beets, vodka (use potato-based vodka to keep it kosher for Passover), and fresh horseradish. For Chazeret, the second bitter herb, they turn to Cynar and gin, and garnish with an orange peel in a nod to some progressive Jews' inclusion of an orange in the seder. They evoked charoset with a honey and sweet vermouth cocktail dusted with cinnamon, and for karpas, they shake flat-leaf parsley with gin and balsamic vinegar.

We half expected a bone luge in the place of the traditional lamb shank, but the Sipping Seder keeps it classy with a crimson-colored ruby port cocktail. For the Beitzah, usually represented by an egg on the seder plate, the last cocktail is shaken until frothy with egg white.

Where did the inspiration for the Sipping Seder come from? Rob Corwin says that he and Jacobs had attended a number non-traditional seders "that took creative approaches to the holiday. These experiences gave us the confidence that it was ok to take the old traditions down from the shelf, to work with and re-interpret them, to make them meaningful in our own way. "

How does it work? Is the Sipping Seder the tipsiest Passover ever?

Corwin says that it can go two different ways:

For a more traditional observance, our cocktails work nicely as an aperitif to offer guests before the evening begins. For a non-traditional evening, all six cocktails can be served in a seder-like progression...The key to this approach is to cut the servings down into miniature tasting portions, intersperse them with plenty of water and serve lots of Jewish finger foods to keep folks upright for the duration.

We debuted the cocktails in this way for a few dozen friends last year, and it was very successful. Inspired by the Haggadah, our guests read descriptions of the symbolic items and the cocktails as each drink was served. Each of the readings ended with a thought to ponder as you sipped. These served as an excellent catalyst for conversation...That discussion—and the amount of time required to prepare each cocktail—helped to pace the evening and keep the tipsiness on the four-glasses-of-wine scale."

Would you consider doing a Sipping Seder? What drinks would you make to represent the different elements of the Passover story?