Mixology Monday: Vodka

by Matt Robold on August 11, 2009

Mixology Monday strikes again!  After a July hiatus thanks to Tales of the Cocktail, Felicia’s Speakeasy hosts the August 09 edition with a topic that is not so near-and-dear to many a cocktail blogger’s heart: Vodka.

The theme of August 10th’s Mixology Monday is “Vodka is Your Friend.” The recent high profile bashings of vodka interspersed with a few weak “yeah, buts…” left me wondering, is vodka the axis of evil, our most dangerous enemy? While it may not be the life of the party, experts agree: Vodka’s obituary does not have to be written just yet.

Most cocktail snobs enthusiasts these days seem to turn their noses up at the flavorless spirit that is sold by the cargo container at bars around the world.  Vodka is the best-selling spirit in the U.S., and while so many of us are actively working to bring people to more flavorful spirits, we sometimes forget that vodka can play an important role in mixology.

Whereas other spirits bring their own flavor to any cocktail, vodka allows the mixologist to play with the flavors of the other ingredients without having to concern themselves with balancing against the spirit.  In a manner of speaking, vodka is to mixology as tofu is to cooking.  In other words, it will taste like whatever you mix it with.  And as someone who deeply loves numerous tofu dishes like ma po tofu, it would be hypocritical of me to refuse to allow vodka a seat at the table.

coriander_kiss_blocked Coriander Kiss

2 oz Cilantro Vodka
1 oz Lillet Blanc
.5 oz Lime Juice
1 tsp Agave Syrup
2 dashes bitters

Combine ingredients in your mixing tin and shake with ice.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Of course, you’re probably wondering where the heck one buys cilantro vodka right about now (right after you get past the “Where’s the rum?” question).

Before July’s Drink.Write 2009 conference (hosted by the Cocktails & Spirits Online Writers Group in New Orleans), Oval vodka solicited entries for an infusion and cocktail competition.  The rules were pretty simple: make an infusion with Oval Vodka as the base and then submit your infusion along with a cocktail using your infusion.  Judging took place during the Drink.Write conference, and Marshall Fawley of Scofflaw’s Den took first place with a Thai-inspired infusion using lemongrass, ginger, and other spices.

Meanwhile, I stuck to my current pattern of being the permanent bridesmaid, coming in second with my own cilantro, peppercorn, and honey infusion.

Cilantro – Peppercorn – Honey Vodka

750 mL Oval Vodka
Handful of Cilantro
.25 cup whole peppercorns
.5 cup honey

Steep the cilantro in the vodka for 24 hours and then strain out the cilantro.  Add the peppercorns and honey and shake vigorously.  Steep for 48 hours and then strain through cheesecloth and/or a coffee filter.

I suppose I could have done something simpler with the vodka, but where would the fun be in that?  How about you?  What’s your favorite thing to do with vodka?

{ 3 comments }

Chris August 13, 2009 at 3:28 pm

Watch it sit on the shelf looking lonely as I reach for a bottle of rum or tequila.

Dave August 13, 2009 at 4:56 pm

My favorite thing to do with vodka? Make drinks for my lovely wife. :) While I am trying to bring her around to more civilized beverages (HA!), it is easy to make her vodka based drinks, since I don’t have to balance against other flavors (as you mentioned). Once I have a little more experience under my belt, that will become less of an issue, but until then, vodka will be a necessary evil in my up-and-coming bar.

For me personally, though, I am looking forward to making some vodka cherry bombs, and perhaps trying to infuse some vodka on my own, if I can find a brand that would be a good base without being too expensive. I need a little more vanilla in my life, so that is probably what I’ll start out with. My son, the budding chemist/mad scientist is also looking forward to help dear ol’ dad with his first few infusions. :D

Dave

Dave August 13, 2009 at 4:59 pm

And congratulations on second place! I’ll need a paradigm shift to start working with those sorts of ingredients and flavors, but I am impressed by your creativity. Nicely done!

Dave

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