Latkes & Vodkas: It rhymes, and promises good times

Vodkas will splash all evening at Congregation Beth Sha lom on Saturday, Dec. 5, at the Latkes & Vodkas benefit.
Vodkas will splash all evening at Congregation Beth Sha lom on Saturday, Dec. 5, at the Latkes & Vodkas benefit. Tribune News Service

Go ahead and indulge a little come Saturday night by sipping some spirits, enjoying a cigar and listening to some hot licks.

You can do all of the above in the name of charity in, perhaps, a less than likely place – a Jewish synagogue.

The eighth Latkes & Vodkas fundraiser returns to Modesto’s Congregation Beth Shalom on Dec. 5, a benefit for scholarships and youth programs. While the festive party is held around Hanukkah each year, it’s not meant to mark the Jewish holiday that begins the next day, Sunday, Dec. 6.

“This is not a religious event,” event chairman Joel Youngheim said in an email interview. “The only tie to the holiday is serving the traditional Hanukah food, latkes (potato pancakes), and many other tasty delights.”

Featured vodkas poured this year will be from Amsterdam and Grand Teton, and hors d’oeurves and desserts will be made on site. Two local bands will offer up the music to imbibe (and dance) by – Hot Club Faux Gitane, an acoustic swing band, and the Kyle Barker Band.

While vodka remains the star of the party, organizers are expanding the liquor lineup by adding some Southern spirits in an area set up as a cigar lounge.

“One of today's hottest trends is cigars with scotch, whiskey and bourbon,” Youngheim said. Hence, Saturday’s event will include a separate venue across the synagogue courtyard showcasing cigars provided by Modesto business The Cigar Club, along with a variety of Southern hard liquors.

While it’s held at Congregation Beth Shalom, Latkes & Vodkas is a cocktail party that attracts people from all cultures and from all over the community.

“From the first year the event drew everyone, even as far as Sacramento and the Bay Area,” Youngheim said. “This is a night that we all come together dance, eat and enjoy the company of our friends and neighbors.”

Tickets for Latkes & Vodkas are available at CBS from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays; on its website,; or at Barkers Music, 3125 McHenry Ave.; Cigar Club 1407 Standiford Ave.; and Sleep Haven Bedding, 1560 McHenry Ave.

Pat Clark: 209-578-2312

Latkes & Vodkas

When: 8 to 11 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5

Where: Congregation Beth Shalom, 1705 Sherwood Ave, Modesto

Tickets: $40, includes two drinks, food and entertainment; additional drink tickets available for purchase.

Call: (209) 571-6060