A Snowball’s Chance in Shul | The Jewish Week | Food & Wine

A Snowball’s Chance in Shul

A Snowball’s Chance in Shul

Advocaat. credit: Sebastian Koppehel

All about the Snowball cocktail and its primary ingredient, advocaat

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With the cold weather season now firmly upon us, I’m finally plucking up the courage to try a classic Snowball cocktail.

The Snowball was all the rage in the UK just a few decades back, and, I am assured, remains popular in Anglo-Jewish circles come Shabbat kiddush time.

This is a drink I had been avoiding for 15 years, ever since I learned what its primary ingredient, advocaat, is made of.

Advocaat (pronounced ahd-vo-kaht’) is a traditional Dutch liqueur made from raw emulsified egg yolks, sugar, and booze (usually brandy, but sometimes grain-based distillate). Advocaat is typically a sweet, thick, opaque, yellow-colored potation that is like a cross between boozy eggnog and runny, alcoholic custard. It is typically bottled at between 14 and 20 percent alcohol by volume (abv).

When I first encountered advocaat in London in 2002, I nearly got over the off-putting thought of shelf-stable egg liqueur until I noticed that the label sported a somewhat dubious looking garden gnome-like figure, above which was the bold moniker: “Pure quality. Prepared with new laid eggs only. Shake before using.” I’ve been studiously avoiding it ever since.

The name advocaat, which is also the Dutch word for “advocate” or “lawyer,” is the short form of the original name for the drink, Advocatenborrel, or the “lawyer’s drink.” Exactly what a raw-egg liqueur has to do with lawyers is unclear to me though Wikipedia quotes an 1882 Dutch dictionary that claims Advocatenborrel was “so named as a good lubricant for the throat, and thus considered especially useful for a lawyer, who must speak in public.” Being neither Dutch, nor a lawyer, I’ll take it on faith that this actually explains it.

There is, of course, also a popular folksy, undocumented history of advocaat that suggests that the drink originated in either Indonesia, Brazil, or Suriname—why, or how, these places get confused here is another head-scratcher, but never mind.

The story goes that Dutch colonists inherited a local drink from the previous Portuguese colonists called Abacate, made from the pulp of avocado mixed with brandy. Abacate is the Portuguese word for avocado. Back home in the Netherlands, where avocados were unavailable, the Dutch substituted egg yolks. The Dutch word for avocado is, just in case you were wondering, advocaatpeer.

In any event, when not served up as a Snowball, advocaat should be served cold, preferably over ice, though room temp and neat is widely accepted in British Jewish kiddush settings. While there are plenty of kosher certified options for advocaat to be found throughout Europe, there are far fewer to be found in the US.

One of the better recent options is the pareve OU-certified Vermeulen Advocaat (17 percent abv; $20) imported from the Netherlands by Medek (which is Kedem backwards). It is rich, thick, creamy, sweet, and custardy, and works as well served over vanilla ice cream as part of dessert, as it does served over ice or in a Snowball cocktail. Without further ado:

Snowball Cocktail

In an ice-filled Collins or highball glass pour about 3 to 4 ounces of British Lemonade (a fizzy drink roughly similar to our 7Up, which will do in a pinch —though it is worth it to try to find an imported British Lemonade; San Pellegrino Limonata is a good option, too). Into this pour about 2 ounces of advocaat.

A traditional additional option is to add a splash of Rose’s Lime Juice Cordial, though ¾ of an ounce of fresh limejuice is preferable. Lightly stir.

The most traditional garnish is one of those unnaturally bright red Maraschino cherries, but a twist of lime zest, or even just a slice of lime, classes it up nicely. Drink before the carbonation dissipates.

This is surprisingly good and refreshing, especially satisfying as a dessert, and yet somehow appropriate to the cold weather.


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