No. 209: Kosher Gin For New Years Eve, 5772

How can you pass over a gin made for Passover?  Or the Jewish New Year, Rosh HaShana (September 29-30, 2011)?

Few goyim realize that on Rosh HaShana, a giant matzoh ball is dropped at Times Square

True or False:

  1. When Rick Blaine said, “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she hadda walk into mine,” the Rabbi replied, “Gevalt, Bogie, have you got the wrong gin joint—this is a synagogue.”
  2. The reason Jesus changed water into wine was because gin can’t be made kosher.
  3. There is nothing wrong with Mogen David anyway unless you drink too much of it, and why would you do that?—you’ll ruin your health already.
  4. This columnist’s soul is beyond the realm of salvation.

If you answered true to any statement but the last one, bubbie—have I got the booze for you! Not only is it delicious, flavored with juniper, citrus and spices, but it manages to solve that age-old quandary:

What do you give a to guy (or goy) who has everything… except a kosher gin to drink at Rosh HaShana?

The brainchild of food and wine entrepreneur Leslie Rudd, No. 209 Gin bills itself as ‘the only certified kosher-for-Passover gin in the world’.  I think we can all agree as to the probability of that statement’s truth without a further Google search.

Despite my Catholic school education, I have, in my lifetime, attended a number of Seders, and unless the menfolk were sneaking off behind the symbolic woodshed between symbolic courses to do non-symbolic gin shooters without inviting me, my conclusion is elementary:  There was no gin!  Was this because traditionally, gin is made with grain-based spirits that are forbidden during the eight-day festival? Or because nobody particularly felt like drinking gin, the quintessential tipple of British upper crust, on a  biblically-mandated Jewish holiday?

Arne Hillesland

Who cares?  Either way, Rudd saw a niche and filled it, hiring master distiller Arne Hillesland and associate winemaker Jonathan Hajdu of Covenant Wines to craft a unique recipe that adheres strictly to kosher dietary law—which among other tenets, assures that juniper berries are picked humanely.  Rudd’s overreaching philosophy, echoed by his daughter Samantha (who currently runs the show) suggests that micro-distilleries like No. 209 have a role to play in bringing innovative products, new ideas and fresh enthusiasm to the distilled spirits industry.

So, since you did so well on the first one, here’s another true/false quiz:

No. 209 is called No. 209 because…

  1. That’s where I rank ‘certified kosher-for-Passover gin’ on the list of ideas I’d have invested in (coming right after Campbell’s Cream of Tartar Soup).
  2. That’s the square footage of the distillery.
  3. It indicates that at 2:09 AM on a jet setter planet far removed from a poor wine column schlepper’s, that’s when the real fun begins.
  4. No. 209 was the federal distillery number granted to the original owner of Leslie Rudd’s Edge Hill winery in St. Helena.

Dead on, once again.  Number 4 is the only true statement.

Speaking of statements, didn’t Bogart also say, “The rest of the world is three drinks behind”?

Regardless of your faith, creed or religious observance, No. 209 is a great way to start catching up.

Tasting Notes:

No. 209 Gin, around $30: Silky smooth, bone dry and peppered with overtones of papaya, lime zest, licorice and coriander behind a traditional juniper core. Spicy, crisp and super-clean finish.

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