Celebrate vodka's comeback by mixing it up chez vous with these dazzling
cocktails, which taste so good your friends will be coming back for more…
WORDS LAURA FOSTER PHOTOS STEVE RYAN
or amateur cocktail makers,
vodka is an ideal spirit to work
with. In comparison to, say,
rum and whisky, it's certainly a
neutral spirit, which means that it
works well with myriad � avours.
What's more, this happens to be an
interesting time for vodka…
Vodka enjoyed a boom in the
latter half of the 20th century, but its
popularity has waned more recently,
as interest in other spirits - particularly
gin - has burgeoned. With our palates
becoming more educated, we now
go in search of � avour experiences.
This has resulted in a number of vodka
producers looking at
ways to emphasise
the � avour pro le of
The aim used to be
to produce vodkas
'purity' through multiple distillations and
ltration, but now it's about the character
and di erences of these vodkas.
An example of this is Vestal Vodka, a
Polish potato vodka that undergoes just
one distillation and is released in vintages
made with potatoes from speci c sites.
In other words, Vestal produces vodka
with terroir in mind (like wine), and the
di erence in � avour between its vodkas
can be easily picked up: one might taste
vegetal, another will be bright and fruitier.
The bigger brands are also starting
to look at these factors. Absolut has a
vodka called Elyx, made from wheat
from a single estate in Sweden, using a
copper rectifying still that helps produce
a spirit with a velvet-like mouthfeel.
While most vodkas can be described
as smooth and creamy, some are
smoother and creamier than others. I
would say that Elyx is one, along with the
delicious Aylesbury Duck Vodka, a sweet
drink that is made with Canadian wheat
and tastes of macadamia nuts and vanilla
Mini Milks. Both of these brands suit
drinks such as Vodka Martinis, where the
character of the spirit shines through.
A key factor in vodka's character is the
raw material used to make it, and while
wheat is the most common ingredient,
plenty of others are being used -
including the aforementioned potatoes.
Belvedere is a Polish vodka made from
rye, a grain known for imparting spicy
characters to American whiskeys, and
I certainly pick up a peppery spice that
makes it ideal for Bloody Marys.
The excellent Konik's Tail goes further,
mixing spelt with rye and winter wheat
to excellent e ect, just as American
whiskeys incorporate a mixture of grains.
I like drinking Konik's Tail neat and at
room temperature, or over ice.
And nally, those looking for fruity
� avours should try Cîroc, a vodka distilled
from French grapes, which, roughly
speaking, is how Cognac starts out before
it's poured into barrels to age. The bright
grape note lends itself to fruity cocktails;
or if you're feeling lazy, have Cîroc over
plenty of ice with tonic water, a heap of
sliced fruit and a dash of bitters.
Whoever said that vodka is boring?
One of the key factors that shapes
a vodka's character is the raw
material that's used to make it
94 | squaremeal.co.uk
cocktails at home