Eight Cocktails for Eight Nights

Imbibe the Hanukkah Miracle for all Eight Nights

By Jason Harris

We can admit it. Hanukkah is a great holiday celebrating a miracle, but as far as the actual festivities go, they’ve gotten a bit stale. It’s almost like the eight nights of the holiday have gone on auto-pilot. You know which nights the big presents are coming. You know which night you have to be on your best behavior because company is coming over. And you know which songs will be sung. Speaking of which, can we get some updated Hanukkah tracks? The oil in the menorah lasted for 8 days and, as best as we can tell, all we got are “I Have a Little Dreidle,” Peter, Paul and Mary’s “Light One Candle,” and Adam Sandler’s “The Hanukkah Song” out of it.

While this article cannot update your mid-December Jewish holiday playlist, we are here to help spice up the “eight crazy nights” with some help from our favorite mixologists. The assignment went like this: I contacted 8 mixologists and let them pick a number. Whatever number they picked was the Hanukkah night they were assigned. Their job was to create a cocktail based on the description of the night and a cuisine they might pair it with.

So without further ado, let’s make sure the menorah isn’t the only thing “lit AF” this Hanukkah. Let’s ratchet things up with these special Hanukktails.

ONE - SeongHa Lee - formerly of Zuma and Mandarin Oriental. Now, he seemingly tours the world as a guest bartender wherever he goes.

Description: Night one is a party! The first night of Hanukkah is full of revelry and fun, but often times with family only. The bigger parties take place later in the Festival of Lights, after you make sure your latkes game is still on point. So what you have here is a delightful night full of traditions. You argue with your parents on how your psychology degree, which they keep reminding you they paid for, fits perfectly with your new job as the social media manager at a new startup and even if it didn’t, you are working for a company that is going to change the world and that is more important right now than following the traditional medical school path. Things, of course, get better when they give you an XBox One (as the first night is usually the night of the biggest gift). A lovely plate of potato latkes, including regular and sweet potato, with homemade applesauce and sour cream sate the entire family. Everyone is in the holiday spirit.

Lee: Hanukkah, to me, is like other holidays in that it’s about spending time with family and having some traditional foods with dessert. To me, Hanukkah’s key words were ‘Family’ and ‘Hanukkiyah,’ so I wanted to make a non-alcoholic sharing hot drink for each family’s own way of celebrating. The drink is a great pairing with traditional foods like latkes and sufganiyah. Let’s celebrate and start singing ‘Ma’oz Tzur (Rock of age)’ for our Hanukkah with family.

The Song of the Shammash

  • Cognac - 1L
  • Caramel Sauce - 5oz
  • Honey - 12oz
  • Apple Cider - 10oz
  • Lemon Juice - 7oz
  • Almond Powder - 200g
  • Cinnamon Sticks - 10 sticks
  • Rosemary - 5g
  • Apricot - 50g
  • Dates - 30g
  • Clove - 5 cloves
  • Ginger - 300g (Take off the skin and slice)
  • Thyme - 3g
  • Vanilla Bean - 1 bean
  • Cinnamon powder

Preparation: Boil 1L of Cognac first. When it starts boiling, put in all other ingredients, besides rosemary and thyme. Keep boiling all ingredients around 20 mins then put the rosemary and thyme in. After 7 min take out rosemary and thyme from the drink. Then fine strain all ingredients. Keep it warm for serving. Garnish with cinnamon powder on top.

TWO - Jamie Cooper - MGM Grand

Description: You and the family are still in a happy mood, enjoying the glow of Hanukkah. It’s a cool holiday, isn’t it? You get gifts eight nights in a row. You get to celebrate a miracle of your ancestors. And you get another nice dinner. It’s brisket night at the house, a rarity that proves just how special the holiday is. Plus, your new Xbox One now has some new games you can play. Your gifts for the night are the very popular Call of Duty: WWII and Cupheads games.

Cooper: Since video games harken us back to our youth, a chocolate, dairy-like beverage should mesh well with those thoughts. The punch of the bourbon will mesh with the nature of the militaristic video game being played, along with the adrenaline rush of Cupheads.

Bourbon Horchata Punch

  • 1.5 oz Maker’s Mark Bourbon
  • .5 oz. Godiva White Chocolate Liquor
  • Dash of nutmeg
  • 3 oz. Cinnamon Horchata (Califia Farms makes a kosher one)

Preparation: Combine all ingredients with ice into a mixing tin. Shake vigorously. Pour over fresh ice into a mason jar. Garnish with nutmeg and fresh chocolate shavings.

THREE - Jessica Lee Westergom - The Black Sheep and The Sand Dollar

Description: It’s Hanukkah... still. You’re in the groove now. You know what time you’re required to be in the living room to light the shamash. Your family is perfectly in pitch when singing “Hanukkah Oh Hanukkah.” And you’re still enjoying leftover latkes for late night snakes. But the momentum has slowed down. Instead of getting a gift you are really excited about, tonight you get a book. Sure, it’s Ready Player One, thereby proving that your parents understand your love of video games crosses mediums, but still. Your mom made a nice noodle kugel for dinner.

Westergom: I wanted to create something with low ABV (alcohol by volume) for the transition night of this cocktail. It is something people can sip and enjoy and take their time on. I also wanted to use stronger flavor profiles that will cut through the buttery richness of kugel. 

Silent Night

  • .75 aquavit
  • .75 lillet
  • 3 dashes orange bitters
  • Absinthe rinse in glass
  • 3 star anise to garnish

Preparation: Combine in mixing glass and stir. Absinthe rinse the serving glass before pouring cocktail in. Use anise to garnish.

FOUR - Juyoung Kang - The Dorsey

Description: You are sick of talking to your family. They don’t understand the value of what being a social media coordinator for a startup is really all about. You show them a tweet you sent out that got seven retweets. They don’t even care! You turn on the TV. The Celtics and the Rockets are playing. You decide not to talk to anyone else in your house on this night and basically eat chips and dip for dinner. Happy Hanukkah!

Kang: I think if I wanted a chill and lazy day, I would want an awesome fun drink.  Nachos or pizza are junk food.  So keep it going and wash it down with nothing but a childhood favorite from across the nation, a root beer float... adult version. 

Sassafras Float

  • 1.5oz Dark rum
  • 5oz Root beer or Cola
  • 1 scoop of vanilla ice cream
  • Grated nutmeg and cinnamon

Preparation: Pour rum into glass. Pour root beer. Pour one scoop of vanilla ice cream. Grate nutmeg and cinnamon on top.

FIVE - Eric Gladstone - One7 Communications - Food public relations

Description: Look. You love Hanukkah and all. But you need a break. Your family reminds you that your life is so hard compared to the Maccabees, who had the simple task of retaking the temple from the Greeks, the greatest army in the world. You tell them you’ll treat them to Chinese food. That shuts them up good and quick. All Jews love Chinese takeout no matter the holiday.

Gladstone: One can only eat so many latkes - even my latkes. So take a night off and switch up to a liquid latke. Trust me, this sweet savory cocktail has wowed many a serious dreidel spinning session and will have you shouting “dayenu” till the candles are all burned down.


  • 2 ounces (a large handful) of salty potato chips (Pringles or Munchos might be perfect for this)
  • 1 teaspoon Greek finishing salt or similar
  • Good extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 ounces Stolichnaya Gala Applik vodka
  • 2 ounces half-and-half
  • 1 rounded tablespoon of unflavored applesauce
  • Juice of half a Meyer lemon

Preparation: Pulverize potato chips and salt to create rim for finish. Chill martini glasses. In a cocktail shaker, combine the vodka, half-and-half, applesauce, and lemon. Shake forcefully. Rub the rim of the martini glass with a smidge of olive oil. Dip the glass into the salty potato chip dust and turn to get an even rim. Reshake the liquid and pour.

SIX - Sarah Gage - Sparrow + Wolf

Description: HANUKKAH! The momentum is back. This is the big night. Your neighbors are coming over. Your cousins are coming over. Your mom even invites your old boyfriend / girlfriend who she ran into at the supermarket because she likes your ex so much better than the person you are currently seeing (maybe even more than you). This is the party your parents have been planning for a month. The little kids play dreidle and steal each other’s gelt. The adults quietly tell each other, “These latkes are good, but you should try my recipe.” You even get along with your cousins as you destroy bad guys in Call of Duty together. If there is one perfect night of Hanukkah, this is it.

Gage: There is something about winter that has always screamed sangria for me, this is no exception. When I would spend time with my family over the holidays, the final days together were the trickiest because tensions were high and family members were getting antsy to go back to their homes. The flavors in this Winter Sangria are those that will spark fond memories and give family a little something sweet to enjoy by the fire.

Kosher Winter Sangria served in a punch bowl

  • 1 (750ml) bottle of Manischewitz Concord Grape Kosher Wine
  • 2oz Calvados Apple Brandy
  • 5 clove studded orange wheels (to infuse in mixture, cut extras before serving for garnish)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1/2 oz vanilla bean, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 apple, sliced - stem & seeds removed
  • 1 pear, sliced - stem & seeds removed
  • 1 (16.9oz) bottle of Fever Tree Elderflower Tonic Water

Preparation: Combine all ingredients (excluding tonic) in a container. Refrigerate 4 hours minimum or overnight. Garnish with a clove studded orange wheel topped with fresh grated nutmeg and tonic.

SEVEN - Todd Smith - Oak & Ivy

Description: Hanukkah fatigue has set in. But it’s not Hanukkah’s fault. If you celebrate anything for a long time, it gets to be mundane. Why do you think honeymoons usually only last a week? You make yourself eggs and toast for dinner. Your parents give you a snow shovel as a gift. You remind them it doesn’t snow out here. They tell you they want you to have a backup plan in case the startup fails.

Smith: I’m burnt out and I like the idea of French toast for dinner.

Liquid French Toast

  • 2 oz. Makers Mark wheated bourbon
  • .5 oz Zabov egg yolk liquor
  • 3/4 Egg whites
  • .25 oz Maple syrup
  • 2 dashes Black walnut bitters
  • Topped with hand spun vanilla bean and nutmeg soft whip cream. Cold brew coffee reduction syrup. Garnished with a French toast rollitini.

Preparation: With the bourbon, liquor, egg whites, maple syrup and bitters, wet shake. Then dry shake. Double strain into coupe.

For the topping: Cold brew coffee with brown sugar, reduce by half.

Heavy cream, nutmeg, vanilla bean. Whisk hard until at the pourable cream stage (super soft peaks) Pour drink in coupe, top with cream mixture, coffee syrup. Dust with cinnamon

Make French Toast. Cut into circle with glass. Flatten, roll, pick, chill. Garnish

EIGHT: Kinson Lau - Station Casinos

Description: Really? Socks? This is one tradition we can do away with. You tell your parents you can buy your own socks. There are leftovers in the fridge. Your mother says everyone can fend for themselves. Your family decides to eat quickly and go see a movie. Because you all appreciate spending time with one another but you appreciate that time even more if you don’t have to talk to each other. Happy Hanukkah.

Lau: I wanted to do something light, since it’s been such a tiring week, but still with the flavors and body of a cocktail with substance. It has lower abv (alcohol by volume) to fit the mood of mellowing out at the end of the week-long celebration.

Smooth Operator

  • 2oz Alessio Chinato 
  • 0.75oz Carpano Blanco
  • 0.25oz Benedictine
  • 10 drops of Seven Stills cocktail bitters
  • 0.5oz New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc 

Glassware: Old Fashioned 

Garnish: Orange Peel Zest

Ice: Big Cube if you have it. Or regular cubed ice will do

Preparation: Place all ingredients into mixing glass except for Sauvignon Blanc. Add ice and stir for 10 seconds. Strain into glass over ice. Top with Sauvignon  Blanc, garnish with orange zest and place peel over the ice.

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