Just don’t drink this weekend.
That would have been the logical answer. Instead, I spent way more time than I should have trying to figure out what types of alcohol fit into my over-simplified version of “Kosher for Passover.” When it comes to Passover, I stick to the basics: no wheat, oats, rye, barley or spelt (the last one rarely poses a problem). I then pretend I’m Sephardic, a Jew from Spain or Northern Africa, which allows me to eat things like beans, rice, corn and peas. I still avoid corn syrup, however, just because that’s how we did things when I was growing up.
But even with my somewhat arbitrary notion of what is OK and not OK to eat during the breadless week, I had a hard time finding a substance last weekend to take the edge off my highly stressful week. I discovered that pretty much every alcoholic beverage is made from a Passover-contraband substance (and I’m not just talking ethanol, here).
Determined to prevent this minor set back from ruining my evening, I headed over to God Quad at around 10 p.m., where the after party for the Concert Against Cancer was just getting underway. For $2, I discovered, I could down jello shots, sample a number of fancy mixed drinks from Mojitos to Cosmopolitans, or simply have a beer.
I paid my entrance to the overly enthusiastic bouncer (a tiny Asian girl — I totally could have taken her) who drew a pink “w” on my hand.
“What does ‘w’ stand for?” I asked.
“Oh, those are boobs,” she said, giggling.
God Quad’s common room was conspicuously empty. Only a few early birds sat on the deteriorating couches that lined the dance floor, nursing their drinks like balding, middle-aged alcoholics on the bad side of a divorce. My friends and I arrived earlier than we had intended, but the eerie glow of a strobe light flashing into vacant space was overshadowed by the joy of being first in line at God Quad’s stately wooden bar (a gift from God Quad 2004, I learned recently).
But then I remembered: I can’t drink any of this. The pink w-boobs mocked me from their place on my right hand.
My options were not looking good.
Punch was a definite “no.” Mixers sans corn syrup are hard to come by, especially when you buy your punch ingredients from Durfee’s. Grain alcohol was also off-limits, but I should have seen that one coming. It’s called “grain” for heaven’s sake.
Beer, another obvious one, is made from barley. Stereotypically enough, I’m not a huge fan of beer, so this discovery wasn’t much of a let down. But then it turns out that many types of vodka, whisky, gin and bourbon are made with wheat, barley and rye. Great.
At this point, my options were wine, sake or potato vodka, and God Quad wasn’t serving any of them on Saturday. But don’t worry about me. I still managed to have a good time, hearkening back to my sober days of high school. Who says you need to drink to have fun?
Besides, Passover ended yesterday. Guess what I’m doing this weekend?