It’s that time of the year again: grab your menorah, spin that dreidel and get ready to fry up some latkes! The key to a good latke is the crunch. A lot of people put flour in their latkes, but I think you get a much better texture if you leave it out (and yay it’s gluten free!). My base latke recipe is simple: 5 grated potatoes, 2 grated onions, 5 eggs, and salt & pepper. Mix it all up, fry ‘em and smother ‘em in sour cream and applesauce.
But before your start grating those potatoes, perhaps you should consider mixing things up this Chanukah. Yes, folks, I’m talking about vodka. I’ve come across a lot of crazy latke recipes and plenty of interesting cocktails, too, even including the surefire crowd-pleaser “Vodkas and Latkes Punch.” But here are my top-five latke and vodka pairings to get you thinking outside the Manischewitz box this holiday season.
The “Loxke” and Vodka
If you, like me, are a sucker for the traditional potato latke I suggest starting things off with this simple, yet classic, combination: the potato latke and gravlax. Start with your base latke recipe, swap out the applesauce for some gravlax and the sour cream for some crème fraîche. If you’re feeling ambitious, garnish it off with some fresh dill and caviar. This is a lot of flavor per bite, so you don’t want to overwhelm yourself with a fancy cocktail. I suggest sticking with a vodka on the rocks. Grand Teton is a potato vodka hailing from Idaho with a subtle aroma and natural flavor that won’t detract from the gravlax and caviar.
If you can still find room for dessert after all those latkes, try ending things on a sweet note. Last year we were honored to experience the first Thanksgivukkah since 1888, but this certainly wasn’t the first time the sweet potato latke joined the Chanukah menu. The ideal transitional snack from Thankgiving to Chanukah, the elusive sweet potato latke comes in sweet and savory forms alike. But if you’re looking to satisfy your sweet tooth, be sure to pair it with this Cinnamon Appletini.
If you’re craving a healthier (for what it’s worth) approach to the latke, you might be interested in the increasingly popular vegetable latke scene. My personal favorite is the zucchini-parmesan latke. This Italian-inspired Chanukah treat gives you a refreshing break from the traditionally heavy and oil-laden potato latke. Sweet and salty, this latke brings a springtime garden party to those cold December evenings. This classy latke deserves only the classiest of cocktails. I propose the Grey Goose Martini—stirred never shaken—with a twist. Crisp, dry and with the slightest hint of citrusy goodness, the martini is the ideal vodka drink for this refined latke for the (somewhat) health-conscious Chanukah connoisseur.
I must admit that I have never really been a beet person, but I simply can’t say no to anything with goat cheese. Miriam Szokovski of the Chabad’s food blog, Cook it Kosher, presents us with a decadent latke alternative: goat cheese stuffed beet latkes. Most commonly paired in salads, the goat cheese’s tangy creaminess perfectly complements the beet’s earthy crunch. And what goes better on your beet salad than a tart and sweet balsamic dressing? This latke is no different, and with this rich dish, why bother cutting corners with your cocktail choice? Go for the Strawberry Balsamic Martini.
My guests are always a bit skeptical and confused when I whip up a batch of cheese latkes for my annual latke party. But you may be interested to know that the consumption of cheese latkes actually dates to the Middle Ages, while potato latkes didn’t gain popularity until the early 19th Century! The Shiksa in the Kitchen, Tori Avey, is my go-to person for all things cheese latkes. Strikingly similar to your standard blintz filling, cheese latkes are delightful when smothered in jam. So why not smother your jam in vodka? Pinnacle’s Smashed Berries Shot or Berry Berry Shot is the way to go.