Is It Kosher To Drink Liquor During Passover?

In the Jewish faith, Passover is a sacred festival celebrating the Hebrew people's liberation from slavery in Egypt. To honor their subsequent pilgrimage to Israel, those who observe follow strict dietary guidelines over seven or eight days, depending on where you're celebrating. During Passover, in addition to complying with Kosher food laws, products made with leavened and fermented grain are also considered off-limits. While this ensures that pasta and bread (besides unleavened matzo) won't be on the Seder menu, it also puts some additional limitations on which alcoholic beverages can be consumed.

Many beers, bourbons, and gins are typically considered kosher. However, because they are made from fermented grains, they are a no-go during the week of Passover. Wine is commonly served at Passover celebrations — just as long as it is made by a kosher winery. Some even insist that a wine must bear a label confirming it has been Passover-certified by a rabbi or certification agency. While bourbon, whiskey, rye, and most gins are prohibited, several other liquors and liqueurs, like some vodkas, tequilas, and rums, pass the Passover test.

Some safe Seder choices

Although wheat-based vodkas like Absolut are typically considered kosher, during Passover they just won't do. Those made from potatoes or corn should, at least in theory, be considered kosher for Passover, but for one reason or another (perhaps they contain traces of grain alcohol or have been flavored with non-kosher approved ingredients), few vodkas are. Kosher certification agencies often provide information about which liquors are certified kosher, making note of those that are also kosher for Passover by marking them with a "P."

The same sentiment applies to tequila and rum. Because they are made from agave and sugarcane, respectively, brands with kosher certification would appear to be Passover safe. However, of the many tequila brands the Chicago Rabbinical Council lists as certified kosher, only three varieties by Zarza are suitable for Passover. While this doesn't necessarily mean that the other liquors aren't kosher for Passover, most who observe steer clear of anything that isn't labeled as Passover-approved. Many cordials are also considered off-limits, but several kinds of brandy are okay. However, because brandy is made from distilled wine, only producers that use kosher wine can produce brandy that's kosher for Passover.