Posts Tagged ‘vodka’

MxMo: Vodka is your friend

August 10, 2009

Mixology Monday is billed as the monthly online cocktail party, where our host chooses a theme and we rock up a couple of hours late, stinking of cheap wine and muttering something about “consumption”. This month, Felicia’s Speakeasy is graciously listening to our ramblings about our favourite Doctor Who and the fact that vodka is your friend.

In Scotland, of course, vodka is everyone’s friend. It’s been the biggest selling spirit in both on- and off-licence sales (that’s bars and liquor stores) since 2008, while Diageo’s Cameronbridge distillery produces several quadrillion litres of Smirnoff every year. As far as Scottish bartenders go, vodka should be our friend, because selling it pays our wages but it’s not. Read the rest of this entry »

Thirty: A walk in the clouds

July 26, 2009

New Zealand. The land of the long white cloud, famed throughout the world for its zeals and their newness, and if there’s any justice in the world, 42 Below Vodka.

42 Below Vodka. The world’s most awarded vodka, according to, uh, 42 Below Vodka and hosts of the annual Cocktail World Cup.

The Cocktail World Cup. An annual cocktail competition open to bartenders all over the world which may or may not involve shaking a cocktail while being thrown off a bridge.

In fairness, they tie you to the bridge first. Apparently.

42 Below Feijoa

Entries have been open for next year’s CWC since early July and the ednbrg inbox is appropriately full of reminders from both 42 Below and their corporate overlords at Bacardi, given that they close at the end of the month. The competition follows the now standard write-in/regional/national/global format, but is seemingly a little less restrictive in terms of ingredients. A lot of competitions specify a maximum number of ingredients or restrict brand usage, but the CWC seems to only request that drinks are made with 42 Below or one of their flavoured vodkas. While the Manuka Honey, Kiwi and Passionfruit vodkas are all pretty awesome, I opted to use the Feijoa, mainly because I like making my life difficult.

Feijoa is a fruit that is firmly planted in the exotic category. It has been adopted as New Zealand’s national fruit (originating from South America and named for a Portuguese explorer), looks something like a lime and tastes something like root beer. It’s a divisive flavour, like Marmite or Vegemite or anything else that ends in -mite. As for the vodka, it’s all eucalyptus and menthol on the nose, with rich herbal flavours and a smooth mouthfeel. If you’ve never tried it, it’s probably worth doing at least once.

Anyway, this one’s in the electronic post to the Vodka University.

A walk in the clouds
60ml 42 Below Feijoa
1 barspoon Acacia honey
15ml lemon juice
An eighth of a Galia melon, diced
A third of an avocado, diced
10ml sparkling water
Muddle the diced avocado with the sparkling water in the base of a shaker tin until it forms a smooth paste. Muddle the diced melon with the vodka, honey and lemon juice in the base of a mixing glass. Add this to the puréed avocado and shake with ice. Single-strain into a chilled coupette and garnish with a melon ball on a cocktail stick with a spear of spring onion.

Adventures in space, time and vodka

June 25, 2009

Here’s a thought.

Cocktails destroy good spirits.

It’s not my thought. It belongs to a man named Börje Karlsson, one of the master blenders involved with a new Swedish vodka called Karlsson’s Gold (rated B+ by Drinkhacker!), in an article in the Washington Post. It’s an interesting thought, not least because it comes from a vodka producer and vodka, well vodka is a bit troublesome.

NO COCKTAILS?… by Metro Centric, licenced under Creative Commons.

Imagine we’ve got a time machine, and rather than using it to buy last week’s winning lottery numbers, we travel back to somewhere near the sixteenth century, somewhere in Eastern Europe, where the bouncing baby vodka tradition has just started walking and saying its first unintelligble words. Assuming that no-one burns us as witches on account of our strange fashions and bizarre future talk, we’ll find a spirit that has mostly slipped past its origin as a medicinal elixir and is gaining popularity among the masses, flavored with herbs, honey and berries, and among the aristocracy who compete to create the purest liquid from their state-of-the-art pot stills. Skip forward a few hundred years and we’ll find this spirit embedded in the culture, adding punctuation to any event, from weddings to birthdays to funerals and everything in between. Vodka becomes the lifeblood of the community, used and abused by the powers that be as something approaching a rum ration for an entire empire through the middle part of the twentieth century.

Read the rest of this entry »

In which we aim for a BSc in vodkaology

June 21, 2009

It’s been a busy little while at ednbrg Tower, what with trying to locate those missing vowels and all. Monday, for example, saw the 42 Below Vodka University roll up to the Voodoo Rooms to launch the 2010 Cocktail World Cup. Thanks to loveable kiwis Jacob and Marty, I now know that New Zealand is home to over 40 million sheep and has been – since 1996 – one of the few countries where home distillation is legal. I also learned that some people, no matter how hard you try, are never going to like a Feijoa-flavored vodka.

I really wish I’d taken some photos of the presentation. First of all, there was vodka tasting which is rarely on my list of top five enjoyable activities. We covered Russian style vodkas (Russian Standard, in this case), Polish style vodka (Belvedere) and what they called a new world style vodka (Ketel One) – meaning Western Europe/America, I’d guess – before moving onto flavored vodka (Zubrowka) and the 42 Below range of Passionfruit, Feijoa, Manuka Honey and Kiwi. While this was going on, there was an animated backdrop projected onto a screen behind Jacob that, at points, showed a giant, laughing Boris Yeltsin head.

After the tasting, we were shown a couple of videos from previous Cocktail World Cups. 42 Below have been hosting the events in New Zealand since 2004, doing things like throwing competitors off a bridge with a bungee cord and a cocktail shaker. The World Cup was described as “the hardest, and most fun” comp ever.

The brand guys then proceeded to the bar to make a mixture of signature cocktails and drinks that had performed well at previous World Cups – including one that had been engineered to taste like a traditional warm, English ale.

All in all, it was a cracking afternoon. There are always downsides, though, and in this case, it was the fact that I had to go to work pretty sharpish after the session.

So. That was Monday.

One Perfect Moment: Vodka

June 16, 2009

Tucked away in a little corner of the Internet, away from the hustle and bustle, you’ll find Scans Daily – or its most recent incarnation, after the original fell victim to alleged grumpiness – where comic fans trade in snippets from their collections. Sometimes pages are posted because they’re flat out awesome. Sometimes they’re posted because they’re really, really bad, or obscure, or intriguing, or weird. Sometimes, they fit to the week’s theme. Last week, the community started posting scans of their favourite characters’ One Perfect Moment – the essence of the character expressed as eloquently as possible in a couple of pages or panels. It’s an absolute treasure chest of potential reading material.

So far, so geek, but we’re not really into drink territory. So here’s the thing: working in a bar, you’ll come across those same elegant moments that express an idea perfectly. For example, Scottish vodka drinkers…

Customer: What vodka do you sell?
Bartender: We’ve got [house pour], [insert super premium brands here], and maybe a bit of [random, appallingly expensive boutique brand] somewhere.
Customer: You’ve got Grey Goose? That’s a great vodka, it’s my favourite.
Bartender: No worries, one Grey Goose. On the rocks?
Customer: Yeah. With Red Bull.

Week Twenty: Last Night’s Party

May 30, 2009

You get asked to come up with a lot of drinks on the fly, working behind a bar. Most times, these drinks tend to be fairly simple – diverting, but not that remarkable. Every once in a while, though, you stumble on something golden.

Last Night’s Party
30ml Bols Cherry Brandy
45ml Absolut Raspberri
30ml lemon juice
10ml Orgeat
Dash egg white
Shake all ingredients with ice and fine-strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with an orange zest.

Week Eleven: Spring Orchard

March 18, 2009

We’ve just finished putting together a new cocktail program for the Paris bar at work and everytime we take on this kind of exercise, there’s a point when someone says “we need x cocktails with this spirit in them,” because we’re only ever going to have y drinks ready, and y is always a number less than x. But, that thing they say about necessity? It’s true.

This drink also ended up being a chance to use Galliano. It’s one of the those bottles that seems to be on almost every backbar without seeing a lot of use, and it’s one that always prompts curiosity whenever I pick it up. The overriding flavour is vanilla, but there are also hints of anise and citrus which makes it an interesting alternative to vanilla-flavoured vodkas.

Spring Orchard
1/8th green apple (muddled)
25ml vodka
12.5ml Galliano
25ml red grape juice
12.5ml lime juice
1 barspoon elderflower cordial
Muddle apple in the base of a shaker. Add the liquids and shake. Fine-strain into a chilled champagne flute and garnish with an apple slice on the rim.

MxMo: the first time

March 4, 2009

For everything in life, there’s an inside and an outside. This month, LUPEC Boston asks us how we’d welcome the unsure to the cocktail party. It’s Mixology Monday, and we want to know one thing: do you remember the first time?

Imagine a swamp. It’s dark, misty and humid. There’s a weird kind of steam coming from the marshes and you’re pretty sure the twisted vegetation is home to any number of nasty beasties ready to devour the unwary. You’ve heard a rumour that there’s a paradise on the other side of the swamp, and that’s it’s not that hard to cross anyway, but right now, up to your ankles in liquid you don’t want to think too hard about, swatting away flies the size of staplers, you’re not thinking about that. Right now, all you want is not to be in the damn swamp.

(swamp by Lawrence Whittemore, licensed under Creative Commons.)

Hold that feeling in your mind and the expression on your face is going to resemble that of someone picking up a cocktail list for the first time. It’s something I see quite a lot at work, that mix of curiosity and utter, utter fear. Some of those exhibiting the look of rabbit soon to lose its third dimension ask for help, some don’t. Read the rest of this entry »

Quality of vodka is directly proportional to level celebrity endorsement; discuss?

February 19, 2009

(Via Dowd’s Spirits Notebook.)

Does MxMo allow write-ins?

February 17, 2009

This totally qualifies for this month’s Mixology Monday – are we allowed to nominate?

In Which Georgia Gives You The McNuggetini (via MeFi)