The seder plate holds two types of bitter herbs. Both symbolize the bitterness and harsh conditions the Jews endured as slaves in Ancient Egypt. For maror, the first bitter herb, many people use freshly-grated or whole horseradish root.
Our maror cocktail is basically a “borscht martini.” We didn’t invent the idea, and we’ve heard murmurs about various incarnations of the drink for the past couple of years. Double Cross Vodka promotes a recipe for one. Eastern Standard in Boston had something similar on their menu a while back. Camper English has written about both on his Alcademics blog.
Our version comes to The Sipping Seder for three reasons. This is our favorite cocktail involving horseradish. We absolutely love beets. And, our recipe takes an interesting turn on the concept. We base our version on golden beets and use a red beet garnish so that the drink gradually changes color as you sip. It’s beautiful and a lot of fun to watch.
3 oz (90 ml) Belvedere Vodka
1 Small Golden Beet – raw, peeled
1 Slice Fresh Horseradish – peeled, about the size of a quarter (25 x 25 x 2 mm)
Fresh Red Beet – raw, peeled, for garnish
1) Cut the golden beets and horseradish into small pieces and muddle thoroughly in a mixing glass with half an ounce (15 ml) of the vodka.
2) Add the remaining vodka to the mixing glass and fill 2/3 full of ice. Shake vigorously.
3) Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a chilled cocktail glass.
4) Garnish with a stick of red beet (about 1/8” x 3” or 80 x 5 mm) at the moment of serving.
We suggest slipping the beet garnish into the cocktail as you serve it. The red color will begin to bleed out into the yellow liquid immediately. Leave it to your guest to observe or agitate the process as they see fit.
On the seder plate, beitzah is said to remind us of the other festival sacrifice offered in the Temple in Jerusalem. It is represented by a baked egg and symbolizes our sorrow at the destruction of the Temple along with the hope that it will be rebuilt.
The nature of the egg also speaks to the potential of the spring season in which Passover is celebrated. Many scholars believe it was a pre-existing pagan tradition which was absorbed into the seder ritual. This would explain why it sits on the plate without ever being used or referenced. It is likely the origin of beitzah is similar to that of the Easter egg, which also lacks a specific role in its holiday.
Crafting an egg-based cocktail to represent beitzah was an obvious choice, but the number of possible variations to think through was a real challenge. We considered numerous approaches, but thought it was most important to find a flavor profile to fit well with a Passover theme. Our solution is an interesting balance of ingredients. We think it rounds out The Sipping Seder nicely.
1/2 oz (15 ml) Laird’s Bonded Apple Brandy
1/2 oz (15 ml) Bulleit Bourbon
1/2 oz (15 ml) Benedictine
1/2 oz (15 ml) Galliano
1 Egg White
1) Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass and shake vigorously without ice.
2) Fill 2/3 full of ice and shake vigorously for an additional 60 seconds.
3) Strain into a chilled tulip-shaped glass.
As with almost any egg-based drink, shaking is the key to this cocktail. The “dry shake” (without ice) in the first step will improve your results significantly.
If you have an extra Hawthorn strainer, remove the spring and place it in the shaker. The little coil will help further improve your egg froth.