Cocktails aren't traditionally served at a Passover Seder. Often, there is wine. But because any grain or corn-based spirits are kitniyot (the hebrew word for the category of foods that are not allowed to be consumed during Passover), mixed drinks aren't typically served. In looking ahead to the holiday, I thought a libation using fortified wines, such as sherry and vermouth, would be nice for those wanting to mix up a little after-work drink.
I sipped my first cobbler just a few weeks ago at one of our favorite bars and haven't stopped thinking about it since. The idea is simple: muddled citrus (typically orange), some sugar, liquor and garnished with seasonal fruit (citrus and berries) and mint. Sherry and vermouth are often a bit thicker in consistency and so a bit of soda water will help cut it.
After describing this drink to my mom, she pointed out that sometimes people include orange on their Seder plates. I had never heard of this before. Why orange? What symbolism does that have?
Here's what I learned from a quick search online: In the 1980s, Dr. Susannah Heschel, a Jewish feminist scholar, was visiting Oberlin College. It was there that she witnessed students adding bread crust to their Seder plates as a way of showing their support of feminists and gays and lesbians, who they felt were excluded from Judaism. Heschel suggested that because bread is kitniyot, that they replace it with an orange slice ("I chose an orange because it suggests the fruitfulness for all Jews when lesbians and gay men are contributing and active members of Jewish life."). The tradition has continued, but now is used to represent any groups that may feel marginalized.
Sometimes a recipe isn't just a recipe. Sometimes there's something symbolic about an ingredient or dish that resonates with people. I certainly wasn't expecting this cobbler to have such significance, but it's nice to think there's more to it than just a way to get people a little intoxicated.
sweet vermouth cobbler
3 orange slices
3 ounces sweet vermouth
1 tablespoon sugar
1. In a highball glass, muddle two orange slices with the sugar. Once the juice has been released, remove the remainder of the orange slices from the glass.
2. Pour the sweet vermouth into the glass then fill the glass two-thirds of the way with crushed ice. Line the inside of the glass with a single orange slice.
3. Top drink with soda water and garnish with fresh mint.