The Bloody Miriam: A Classic Cocktail with a Jewish Twist
Creating a kosher-for-Passover cocktail that doesn’t include wine, wine, and more wine can be difficult. But this Bloody Miriam cocktail recipe is here to save the day and spice up your Seder. You’re already drinking four glasses of wine each night, so why not throw another drink into the mix?
Why does it matter if this cocktail is kosher for Passover?
Passover (aka eight of my most dreaded days of the year), is almost here, the holiday where observant Jews celebrate the exodus of the enslaved Israelites from Egypt. The Jewish slaves were led by Moses and accompanied by his sister and brother, Miriam—who this cocktail is named after—and Aaron. Today, Jews mark the first, or first two, nights of Passover by hosting a Seder, a large celebratory feast with friends and family where the story of the exodus is retold and everyone celebrates their ancestors’ freedom.
The biggest downside of this holiday, especially if you love carbs as much as I do, is that for eight days, Jews cannot eat any food falling into the category of chametz. In general, this includes anything made from the five grains of wheat, barley, oats, spelt and rye. Additionally, Ashkenazim, Jews that originate from Eastern European regions, are even more self-deprived because they do not eat rice, corn, legumes, and some spices.
This means that any kind of bread, cookies, burritos, cupcakes, waffles, sushi, or anything containing high fructose corn syrup is off the table—literally. It also means that a lot of the more popular types of alcohol are not options if you’re following the traditional rules. That’s where the Bloody Miriam comes into play.
What makes this cocktail kosher for Passover?
The liquor used in the Bloody Miriam, arak, is a grape-based spirit, so there’s no chametz involved. Even finding a true certified kosher-for-Passover version is feasible. Arak is a clear, colorless, unsweetened liquor flavored with anise. It is very popular in Israel, Lebanon, and most other Middle Eastern nations. But be careful—at 40-63% alcohol by volume, a small amount will go a long ways.
Arak is also delicious mixed with fresh grapefruit juice if you prefer a sweeter drink than the Bloody Miriam. For a fun party trick, try mixing it with water—the liquid will turn cloudy!
Why else is this cocktail a great Passover-themed drink?
The Bloody Miriam wouldn’t be a proper holiday drink without some symbolism, so get excited for all the hidden meanings in your cocktail that will impress even your constantly kvetching Bubbe.
1) Parsley and the Salt Rim: On Passover, Jews dip leafy greens into salt water to represent the new growth of spring while still remembering the “bitter tears” of slaves in Egypt. The parsley also alludes to the hard work the Jews were forced to do as slaves, because the letters of the Hebrew word for parsley can be rearranged to spell the Hebrew word meaning “backbreaking work”.
2) Tomato Juice: This one is a double whammy. Not only is the red tomato juice symbolic of the Red Sea that Moses parted to allow the Israelites to cross out of Egypt, it also represents the first plague that God sent down to the Egyptians, turning all water into blood.
3) Horseradish: Another part of the Seder plate is bitter herbs such as horseradish, meant to remind Jews of the bitterness of the enslavement of our ancestors.
While not symbolic, the arak and harissa are both shoutouts to the Middle Eastern and North African diaspora. Harissa is a paste made up of ground spicy chiles that is popular in North Africa, particularly Tunisia, and can be used in cooking meat, fish, soups, stews, and couscous.
This Jewish twist on the classic Bloody Mary pulls in influences from the Middle East and North African regions, as well as symbolic references to the traditions of Passover. The harissa and horseradish add some heat, while the arak and ground fennel seed create a unique flavor profile while keeping it kosher for Passover.
#SpoonTip: If you don’t want to try and pair your Seder wines with a Bloody Miriam, this cocktail would also make a great option to go along with a brunch of matzoh brei and charoset.
So don't hold back this Passover just because your parents already stocked up on the kosher-for-Passover wine. If you try out the Bloody Miriam you are sure to impress everyone at your Seder, or the morning after, with your knowledge of both Jewish symbolism and mixology. Plus, even if you don't observe Passover, this cocktail is a delicious way to show off your creativity and try out an unusual flavor combination at your next brunch.
- Prep Time: 10 mins
- Total Time: 10 mins
- Servings: 1
- 1.5 cups tomato juice
- 1.5 oz arak
- 1 tsp harissa
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 3 tsp horseradish
- 2 dashes hot sauce
- 2 pinches ground black pepper
- 1 pinch ground fennel seeds
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 stick celery
- 1 sprig parsley
- 1 lemon wedge
- 1 small plate mixed salt and ground fennel