July 18, 2019

Party on Purim by Stocking Your Bar With These 15 Kosher (or Kosherish) Bottles

Whether you are hosting a gathering at home, partaking in an NFL Sunday or celebrating a holiday, it never hurts to have a stocked bar. With craft spirits and specialized vineyards being more popular than ever these days, it is not always easy to keep up with the latest and greatest brands on the market. But as a frequent reader of industry trades, a prolific interviewer of brand ambassadors and a follower of key developments within the world of alcohol, I regularly take note of new and/or exciting products.

Just in time for Purim 2019, here are 15 brands – all of which kosher-ish if not fully certified kosher – to add to your home bar.

Monkey 47
Monkey 47 is a one-of-a-kind gin that has been carefully developed, handcrafted and batch distilled. It skillfully blends British tradition, the exoticism of India and unique botanicals from Germany’s Black Forest. Monkey 47 includes 47 botanicals, including juniper, lavender, lingonberries (indigenous to the Black Forest) and citrus aromas. With a cult following around Europe, Monkey 47 is also gaining traction throughout America.

SVEDKA Vodka is the number-one imported vodka in the United States, yet earlier this year SVEDKA announced the launch of SVEDKA Rosé. The brand’s innovative answer to the popular rosé wine trend, it is now available in 50ML (SRP $1.99), 375ML (SRP $6.99), 750ML (SRP $12.99), 1L (SRP $16.99) and 1.75L (SRP $21.99) pours. If vodka is more your speed, SVEKDA’s flavor options include SVEDKA Blue Raspberry, SVEDKA Cucumber Lime, SVEDKA Mango Pineapple, SVEDKA Strawberry Lemonade, SVEDKA Strawberry Colada, SVEDKA Colada and SVEDKA Orange Cream Pop.

Tequila Mi CAMPO
Launched in North America in late 2018, Tequila Mi CAMPO is a 100-percent Blue Weber agave tequila. Filled with “aromas of fresh coconut, almonds, sweet orange and green apple over hints of elegant vanilla,” MI CAMPO’s Blanco is produced in Chardonnay barrels. MI CAMPO’s Reposado variety “features aromas of ripe banana and chocolate layered over fragrances of vanilla, cinnamon and clove” as made in Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir barrels. The brand’s eye-catching bottles were designed by artist Raul Urias of Mexico City.

Kim Crawford Wines
Although launched in 1996 in a small home in Auckland, New Zealand, Kim Crawford Wines began exporting to the United States only two years after launching. Within four years, the company moved into a state-of-the-art winery in Marlborough and began looking at vineyards to purchase and cultivate. Kim Crawford’s offerings include Sauvignon Blanc, Rose, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Anthony Walkenhorst is Kim Crawford’s master winemaker, helping to make New Zealand a true wine destination.

Kick Ass Sass
Sass Jordan has been called “Canada’s Queen Of Rock” for many years, and in partnership with the Ontario-based Vineland Estates she has launched Kick Ass Sass. Jordan’s wines — both reds and whites — made their debut back in January, making Jordan the first female Canadian musician to have her own wine line. One of its popular offerings is Kick Ass Sass Red 2016, a velvety Cabernet Franc brimming with hints of cherry, black currant, herbs, bramble, and spice. While Jordan has not recently played live in Los Angeles, she has been to town over the years for press and recording projects.

Benham Gin
The Graton Distilling Company was born out of owner Derek Benham’s love of making stuff cool and his insatiable sense of adventure. Benham got his start selling wine out of the trunk of his ’67 Mustang for a small winery and ended up running the business. Then Benham would strike out on his own and made hay in the wine business before the craft spirits bug bit him. Hard. Under Benham’s careful guidance, the Graton Distilling Company operates with a fearless commitment to craft. D. George Benham’s Sonoma Dry Gin — as launched in February 2016 — was the first spirit, and next up was D. George Benham’s Vodka. Following that has been Redwood Empire American Whiskey and the 10-Year-Old surprise offerings.

The Famous Grouse
First produced by Matthew Gloag & Son in 1896, The Famous Grouse is a popular brand of blended Scotch whisky. The highest-selling whisky brand in Scotland since 1980, Famous Grouse’s whiskey is known to mature in oak casks for up to six months. When purchased online through the spirit’s website, there is the option of personalizing the bottle year-round, which is something that most spirits only let you do during the December holiday season. Local to the L.A. area, Famous Grouse notably ran a “Distinctive Bartender Tour” in 2011.

Old Forester
Last month, Old Forester launched its newest — and spiciest — addition: Old Forester Kentucky Straight Rye Whisky, the distillery’s first new grain recipe in nearly 150 years. The new Old Forester Rye was crafted by Master Distiller, Chris Morris and Master Taster, Jackie Zykan, and follows the historic recipe for Normandy Rye, a brand which Brown-Forman acquired in 1940. Old Forester Kentucky Straight Rye Whisky is presented at 100 proof.

Enter Night Pilsener
Metallica and Arrogant Consortia (a Stone Brewing imprint) recently announced Enter Night Pilsner; it launched earlier this year and will go international this spring. Enter Night Pilsner has been described as “a unique expression of the shared values that have helped define both Metallica and the Escondido-based Stone Brewing: fiercely-independent, transcending genres, shattering preconceptions and challenging convention.” That said, Stone’s leadership and the members of Metallica worked together every step of the way to make Enter Night Pilsner a reality. As the story goes, Metallica’s Lars Ulrich and Stone co-founder Greg Koch even enjoyed multiple occasions at Ulrich’s home “discussing” — supposed industry-speak for “drinking” — beers.

Macchu Pisco
Macchu Pisco was founded by entrepreneurs and philanthropists Lizzie and Melanie da Trindade-Asher. Together, the two have crafted an entirely new experience for discerning drinkers when they introduced the sublime spirit of Peru to the United States, Europe and beyond. While this duo certainly cast a reverent eye toward 400-year-old Pisco producing traditions, Macchu Pisco’s brands are singular in their modern purity and complexity, and have been regarded as nothing less than revelatory by mixologists and tasting panels such as the American Beverage Institute, which awarded the super-premium La Diablada the highest-point award of any Pisco in the U.S. market. Macchu Pisco’s eponymous brand is a premium line made 100-percent from the quebranta grapes. Among the spots in Los Angeles that have been known to serve pisco-related cocktails are Picca, Clifton’s Cafeteria, the Rose Cafe in Venice.

Bonterra Wine
Produced at California’s Bonterra Organic Vineyards, the Bonterra 2018 Rosé is the latest offering from the acclaimed wine label. This Bonterra variety celebrates the fresh, lively spirit of organic viticulture and the lush fruit flavors that shine through in this vintage. The wine’s aromas of strawberry, key lime, rosewater and hints of pineapple greet the nose, while a vibrant bouquet melts across the palate, with notes of ripe peaches, watermelon and pomegranate. As noted by Jeff Cichocki, Bonterra’s lead winemaker: “This is a dry Rosé, making it an ideal wine to enjoy on its own, but it is also incredibly versatile to pair with food. Think picnic fare, Asian-fusion, poached salmon, grilled fish or fresh salads.”

Zonin Prosecco
Perfect for sipping at the picnic, refreshing cocktails on the porch or as an aperitif before brunch alike, Zonin Prosecco – which had a big presence at the most recent Los Angeles Food and Wine Festival – has a dry, pleasantly-fruity flavor that pairs perfectly with just about any spring dish. Plus, as a refreshing, easy-drinking wine with award-winning taste at a fraction of the cost of other sparkling wines, you can stock up without breaking the bank and be fully ready for any spring themed activity. “Pale-straw yellow with a persistent perlage and rich mousse,” Zonin’s prosecco is notably refined and elegant.

Proper No. Twelve
Last week, Eire Born Spirits announced the launch of Proper No. Twelve Irish Whiskey in the United Kingdom. The whiskey brand founded and owned by MMA and UFC champion Conor McGregor, Proper No. Twelve was launched last year in Ireland and the U.S. to immediate success, selling its intended six-month supply sold within the first 10 days of release. Its next next batch — 25,000 cases immediately rushed into the States by McGregor — sold out within days of arrival. Subsequently, Proper No. Twelve has become the most followed spirit on Instagram, with over 575,000 followers in less than five months of being on the market.

Casa Noble Tequila
Founded by Jose “Pepe” Hermosillo, Casa Noble Tequila is produced by agave helmed within the rich soil of Jalisco. Unlike other tequilas, Casa Noble’s wares are triple-distilled, certified-organic and produced in small batches. Last year Casa Noble unveiled the limited-edition Selección del Fundador Volume II, an “8-year extra añejo reserve using only agaves planted in 1997.” Among the brand’s accolades are being the 2016 International Spirits Challenge’s “Tequila Producer of the Year” and OTW’s “Outstanding Tequila of the Decade,” so you ought to continue to expect innovation from Casa Noble.

Cocktail Artist
Launched about two years ago, Cocktail Artist is a line of premium cocktail mixes and bar ingredients designed in collaboration with award-winning mixologists from across the United States and the Bahamas. Cocktail Artist reinvigorated the mix category with premium ingredients and beautifully-designed packaging, initially launching at Walmart with eight mixes and bar ingredients. Among the participating mixologists is Skyy John, a.k.a. Tipsy Bartender, who has 27 million followers worldwide on social media, and the Santa Cruz-based Stephanie Sanchez of Severino’s Bar and Grill.

These brands have been certified through Star-K or through Rabbi Sholem Fishbane from the Chicago Rabbinical Council.