“Are You Allowed to have an Alcoholic Drink at a Bar?”

Illustration Photo.

Appearing in this months issue of the OK Kosher’s Kosher Spirit Magazine is a Halachic question “is it permissible to have an alcoholic drink from a clean glass at a bar/lounge?”

Rabbi Hanoka responds:

First, we have to look at the question from a halachic perspective. Is cold liquid in a non-kosher vessel permissible? The simple answer is that one is allowed to use a clean non-kosher vessel for cold liquids on a temporary basis, as long as one does not have the liquid sitting in the vessel for 24 hours (the time it takes for kovush – pickling). Halacha requires all non-kosher vessels to be cleaned before use. One can rely on the fact that a reputable establishment keeps all items clean to comply with health regulations.

To explain further, regular liquids have a 24-hour time period of before kovush and absorbing from the vessel in which it is contained. Sharp liquids, like alcohol, would absorb in a shorter period of time (18 minutes). This is only true if the majority of liquid is alcohol, but most alcohols are not considered sharp liquids, because they would have to be over 100-proof (more than 50% alcohol).

The average alcohol contains a substantial amount of water and is not pure alcohol. In addition, many mixed drinks, like Bloody Mary, Screwdriver, etc. are even further diluted. With mixed drinks, it is imperative to make sure that each ingredient is kosher certified.

When drinking a shot, most people drink it right away, within 18 minutes and in most cases, the shot is not strong enough to absorb in 18 minutes anyway. In a case where someone is drinking a “sharp” alcohol, like Zektz un Ninetzinger, it is proper to make sure to drink it in less than 18 minutes. Some Sefardim hold of the Beis Yosef’s opinion that glass does not absorb at all and are lenient, but the minhag of Ashkenazim is to be machmir.

A slice of lemon or lime (commonly added to drinks) is a sharp food cut with a non-kosher knife and is not permissible.

There is also a din of not drinking with goyim at non-Jewish parties (like an office holiday party). This response was written for situations when one is socializing in a Torah-permissible manner (i.e. Shidduchim, etc.). For questions regarding a non-Jewish party, please ask your local Orthodox rabbi.

This article has been reprinted with permission. To read more at KosherSpirit.com


  • ekay

    socialising in a torah permissible manner

    having alcoholic drinks in the non jewish environment of a bar is not a healthy way to lay the foundation for a bayis neemon beyisroel

  • to the rabbi

    thank you

    Harav Hagoan Rabbi Hanokah

    just one this (if i may)

    the din about not drinking with goyim should have been placed first.

    Then the halacha regarding lemon etc.

    and then the halcha regarding kovush.

  • cama

    Why don’t they write answers that doesn’t take a brain scientist to read? Just say the straight forward answer in conclusion.

    I’m looking forward to an article about Starbucks written in a clear way.

  • Le chaim

    From another halachic perspective if the drinker is shika when he walks in then he would be considered protected and deemed permissible to drink anything.

    Le chaim!

  • Boruch ben Tzvi (A H)HaKohaine Hoffinger

    Dear ekay wrote:
    I believe couples want to be ‘incognito’ so they
    go to a goyisha atmosphere so they won’t be recognized.
    There are many such spots in fine hotels, etc. The atmosphere is quiet and polite, and they might find a corner seat.

  • Pickle Juice

    What Rabbi Hanoka failed to mention is that pickling can also take place when someone ingests too many drinks. Had he remembered this he would be called not Rabbi Hanoka but rather Rabbi Porim.

    This can be different for every drinker and has to do with experience, amount of food ingested with the alcohol, and some say the weight of the drinker.

    In general if one can say “Na Nach Nachma Nachman meUman” 10 times fast without stumbling one can say that he is not in danger of being pickled. If on the 11th time he stumbles he should test himself by repeating the phrase backward with one leg off the ground and if he is unable to do coherently without falling so he should stop ingesting alcohol immediately.

    “Shoisim leShoitim” simon 80:90

  • Yossi

    Why does everyone who responds feel that they have to be preachy and critical.
    The article stands for itself and can have many implications like business meetings, going to the home of non kosher observant person, an older person on a date. Not every article requires someone to preach at everyone else.
    Rabbi Hanokah’s field is kashrus and that is his main topic.

  • A Smicha Bochur

    Question for Rabbi Hanoka: Isn’t a cut lemon/lime permissible in a place where the knives are not used to cut anything treif? Lemons cut in a goishe lemon factory, for example, are fine according to Halacha.

    So if the bar serves treif food, then the cut lemon is a problem, but what is the problem with a knife at a regular bar? Why is the lemon treif?

    Thank you.

  • Yaakov M.

    Smicha Bochur wrote: “but what is the problem with a knife at a regular bar?”

    Having not been involved in Kashrus in a practical way it is easy for you to think that this may not be an issue.

    Firstly, in the case of a lemon “factory”, realistically speaking the “knives” used there are part of a large piece of machinery that a person would never use to cut that ham sandwich that they brought to work. Even in a hypothetical “lemon factory” where they use actual knives, the likelihood of those knives being taken out of their normal usage is practically nil.

    However, in a bar the likelihood of that knife being used for something other than it’s work purpose rises significantly. Maybe the employees bought some pizza on a slow night etc. etc. The knives could have been purchased used or left over from a previous non-kosher business at that location. There are quite a few scenarios that I can come up with without even having to think about it but it suffices to say that knives at a bar most definitely pose a K
    Kashrus problem.

  • David

    “ok… wrote:

    and having alcoholic drinks on a date is a whole other topic of discussion too!”

    Sometimes the date is going that badly, that’s the only way to pass time :)

  • ah poshitah yid

    Dear ekay wrote:
    I believe couples want to be ‘incognito’ so they
    go to a goyisha atmosphere so they won’t be recognized.
    There are many such spots in fine hotels, etc. The atmosphere is quiet and polite, and they might find a corner