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[simple] vodka cocktail suggestions?


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Other than the occasional martini for someone, I don't usually make cocktails with vodka -- gin, cognac, rum, etc., sure, but vodka not so much.

On Sunday night we have some new neighbors coming over for dinner. They apparently have some family connection to a Polish vodka maker, and have offered to bring some of their stock over. Great, but I'd like to be able to offer some sort of cocktail to them using what they bring. Assuming I have a well-stocked bar -- it's decent -- and want to offer something in addition to martinis and not just a cosmo or something equally uninteresting, what would you suggest? Obviously I don't have a lot of time between now and then to infuse anything. I own most standard liquors and bitters, have some homemade grenadine and ginger syrup floating around, have a good collection of liqueurs, etc. My pimento dram is unfortunately at least 2 weeks out from being ready, but I don't even have anything in mind for it that involves vodka anyway.

Suggestions?

-Dayne aka TallDrinkOfWater

###

"Let's get down to business. For the gin connoisseur, a Martini garnish varies by his or her mood. Need a little get-up-and-go?---lemon twist. Wednesday night and had a half-tough day at the office?---olive. Found out you're gonna have group sex with Gwen Stefani and Scarlett Johansson at midnight?---pour yourself a pickled onion Gibson Martini at 8:00, sharp." - Lonnie Bruner, DC Drinks

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My thoughts are to use what they bring you. Dilute it as little as possible, and show it off.

Perhaps, chill it in the freezer, shake briefly with pure ice, strain, and serve with a twist? Serve it up in a French St. Louis cocktail glass? (At $150 each on eBay, mine aren't for rent.)

Carpe Carp: Seize that fish!

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After a little thought, a drink that you might offer is one that I remember from the '70s in Atlanta.

A White Spider.

Vodka, rocks, and a few drops of white creme de' menthe. The bartender served it up, but to survive, I drank them on the rocks.

For better or worse, I've never been the same.

Carpe Carp: Seize that fish!

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A drink we've done in the past is the Stearns cocktail (a twist on the Vesper) 2 oz gin, 1 oz vodka, splash of Pineau du Charentes (or Lillet if not available) and an orange twist (I like to add orange bitters). Perhaps play around with the ratios in order to show off the vodka.

Good luck!

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If you really want to "taste the vodka" then I think straight chilled is the only way to go. For cocktails with vodka, there are very few I like, but I have enjoyed Audrey's "Dreamy Dorini Smoking Martini." It goes a little something like this:

2.0 oz : vodka

0.5 oz : Laphroaig 10*

2-3 drops : Pernod

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon twist.

* I have used other intensely smokey single malts, such as Lagavullin, with success

--

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I think that the Vodka Valentino might work pretty well for you, especially considering the date. I prefer the gin-based version of this drink, and the concept is nothing more than an adjustment of ratios on a Negroni, but it might work for you.

The Valentino

2 ounces gin or vodka

½ ounce Campari

½ ounce sweet vermouth

1 orange twist, for garnish

Stir over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Add the garnish.

“The practice is to commence with a brandy or gin ‘cocktail’ before breakfast, by way of an appetizer. Subsequently, a ‘digester’ will be needed. Then, in due course and at certain intervals, a ‘refresher,’ a ‘reposer,’ a ‘settler,’ a ‘cooler,’ an ‘invigorator,’ a ‘sparkler,’ and a ‘rouser,’ pending the final ‘nightcap,’ or midnight dram.” Life and Society in America by Samuel Phillips Day. Published by Newman and Co., 1880.

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Howza 'bout having it in ice cold shots with some caviar and freshly shucked oysters on the half shell to accompany? Just toss the bottle in the freezer when your guests arrive and serve something sparkling as an aperitif while the vodka gets cold. Then break out the high class hors d'oeuvres and the chilled vodka.

I'd certainly be flattered if my host did this for me.

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Howza 'bout having it in ice cold shots with some caviar and freshly shucked oysters on the half shell to accompany?  Just toss the bottle in the freezer when your guests arrive and serve something sparkling as an aperitif while the vodka gets cold.  Then break out the high class hors d'oeuvres and the chilled vodka.

This is how I'd approach it as well. It's the traditional (that is, Easter European) way to serve vodka, and there's a reason for that.

If, however, you really, really want to make a cocktail that shows off the vodka, I'd go with what I call a Delancey (for why I call it that, see Fatdeko's principles for naming drinks in the "When is a Collins Not a Collins" thread). This is basically nothing more than a vodka Old-Fashioned, where the bitters and lemon peel aromatize the vodka and the Demerara sugar syrup smooth it out and add some depth of flavor. Nonetheless, the body and the character of the vodka come through loud and clear. If the vodka is a good, old-school Eastern European one, this can be a surprisingly good drink.

The Delancey:

Combine in a small tumbler or Old-Fashioned glass:

1/2 teaspoon rich simple syrup (made with 2 parts Demerara sugar to 1 part water)

1 dash orange bitters

1 dash Peychaud's or Angostura bitters

2 oz vodka

Stir well, add two or three large ice cubes, stir some more and twis a swatch of thin-cut lemon peel over the top. Let sit for a couple of minutes before drinking.

[Edited because I was drinking rye while typing.]

Edited by Splificator (log)

aka David Wondrich

There are, according to recent statistics, 147 female bartenders in the United States. In the United Kingdom the barmaid is a feature of the wayside inn, and is a young woman of intelligence and rare sagacity. --The Syracuse Standard, 1895

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Howza 'bout having it in ice cold shots with some caviar and freshly shucked oysters on the half shell to accompany?  Just toss the bottle in the freezer when your guests arrive and serve something sparkling as an aperitif while the vodka gets cold.  Then break out the high class hors d'oeuvres and the chilled vodka.

This is how I'd approach it as well. It's the traditional (that is, Easter European) way to serve vodka, and there's a reason for that.

If, however, you really, really want to make a cocktail that shows off the vodka, I'd go with what I call a Delancey (for why I call it that, see Fatdeko's principles for naming drinks in the "When is a Collins Not a Collins" thread). This is basically nothing more than a vodka Old-Fashioned, where the bitters and lemon peel aromatize the vodka and the Demerara sugar syrup to smoothi it out and add some depth of flavor. Nonetheless, the body and the character of the vodka come through loud and clear. If the vodka is a good, old-school Eastern European one, this can be a surprisingly good drink.

The Delancey:

Combine in a small tumbler or Old-Fashioned glass:

1/2 teaspoon rich simple syrup (made with 2 parts Demerara sugar to 1 part water)

1 dash orange bitters

1 dash Peychaud's or Angostura bitters

2 oz vodka

Stir well, add two or three large ice cubes, stir some more and twis a swatch of thin-cut lemon peel over the top. Let sit for a couple of minutes before drinking.

David:

I always knew I liked you. Great minds think alike... :wink:

I have all the makings for a Delancey in the house. I think I shall go have one post haste with my favorite vodka - Zyr.

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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As you say, great minds. As long as we don't specify great in which way, right?

Let me know how it comes out--I hope it hits exactly the spot that needs hitting!

aka David Wondrich

There are, according to recent statistics, 147 female bartenders in the United States. In the United Kingdom the barmaid is a feature of the wayside inn, and is a young woman of intelligence and rare sagacity. --The Syracuse Standard, 1895

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As you say, great minds. As long as we don't specify great in which way, right?

Let me know how it comes out--I hope it hits exactly the spot that needs hitting!

I'm sipping one right now. And it has indeed scratched the itch quite nicely, thank you. Your description was spot on. It's more complex than just the plain old chilled vodka, but the base flavor is still shining through well enough to taste clearly. Quite a nice cocktail and one I'll be adding to my repertoire with some frequency, I suspect. A great way to drink quality vodka without adulterating it to oblivion.

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Great suggestions, all.

We're slightly hampered by the fact that we don't yet know these people well yet (thus, the dinner, to rectify that), but we do know that the wife doesn't eat fish. Whether that extends to all-things-fishy (caviar, oysters, etc) is an unknown at this point. So although the eastern-European traditional way of chilled vodka shots along with food is a lot of fun, some of the better pairings are maybe off the list for tonight.

(Side note: I had a lot of icy vodka shots -- most of them pretty rough -- in Russia recently, both with and without food, and it was only the foodless shots that really killed me...)

The vodka, by the way, is Szambelan, which I have not had before.

I'm torn between David and Gary's suggestions right now, and will probably play it by ear a little. I'll let you all know how it goes.

Thanks again for the time and comments.

-Dayne aka TallDrinkOfWater

###

"Let's get down to business. For the gin connoisseur, a Martini garnish varies by his or her mood. Need a little get-up-and-go?---lemon twist. Wednesday night and had a half-tough day at the office?---olive. Found out you're gonna have group sex with Gwen Stefani and Scarlett Johansson at midnight?---pour yourself a pickled onion Gibson Martini at 8:00, sharp." - Lonnie Bruner, DC Drinks

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To a certain extent, I would think that icy shots of straight vodka are out of the question in this situation. Unless they bring the bottle already ice cold, it will take too long for a full bottle of room temperature vodka to get down to freezer temperature.

--

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As you say, great minds. As long as we don't specify great in which way, right?

Let me know how it comes out--I hope it hits exactly the spot that needs hitting!

I'm sipping one right now. And it has indeed scratched the itch quite nicely, thank you. Your description was spot on. It's more complex than just the plain old chilled vodka, but the base flavor is still shining through well enough to taste clearly. Quite a nice cocktail and one I'll be adding to my repertoire with some frequency, I suspect. A great way to drink quality vodka without adulterating it to oblivion.

I'm glad that worked for you! Not a particularly creative drink, to be sure, but not everything has to be.

Szambelan--never heard of it.

And it's always the foodless shots that get you.

aka David Wondrich

There are, according to recent statistics, 147 female bartenders in the United States. In the United Kingdom the barmaid is a feature of the wayside inn, and is a young woman of intelligence and rare sagacity. --The Syracuse Standard, 1895

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Thanks again for all the suggestions.

It worked out that our neighbors brought over the vodka unchilled, so shots were kind of impractical (as Sam suggested they might be).

We'd purposely kept dinner simple (Thomas Keller's roast chicken from the Bouchon cookbook, because there's no chicken either more simple or more delicious), a potato gratin, apple crisp, homemade ice cream (also from Monsieur Keller, natch), etc. So simplicity of cocktail was also key, and David's Delancey was perfect. To be fair to Gary, I did use his orange bitters...

The Delancey was really surprisingly good, and it did (as suggested) let the vodka taste come though. Szambelan, aka "Chamerlain" vodka, is also well worth exploring, and fortunately I have a half bottle left to experiment with (plus a next-door source for more!) It was [apparently] the vodka of Polish kings once upon a time, though such claims are hard to verify.

It was a little richer than many vodkas I've had; I'll post a tasting note later after I try it neat.

But again, the suggestions for ways to serve this were much appreciated, and I'm actually going to try Gary's pretty soon too.

-Dayne aka TallDrinkOfWater

###

"Let's get down to business. For the gin connoisseur, a Martini garnish varies by his or her mood. Need a little get-up-and-go?---lemon twist. Wednesday night and had a half-tough day at the office?---olive. Found out you're gonna have group sex with Gwen Stefani and Scarlett Johansson at midnight?---pour yourself a pickled onion Gibson Martini at 8:00, sharp." - Lonnie Bruner, DC Drinks

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