Category Archives: Vodka-Based
This recipe comes courtesy of the folks who make the Wild Hibiscus Flowers in Syrup, and it nicely showcases both the aesthetic and flavor-related strengths of their product; so far as the Bartender’s cocktail-learning quest is concerned, it also demonstrated the supreme importance of using good-quality spirits when mixing a drink. In this instance, she initially thought the drink interesting but a little bitter; when a bit of tinkering with the ingredients failed to produce something more palatable, she set the recipe aside.
Revisiting it some time later and with a far greater vodka selection, the Bartender decided to try making it with Kirkland Signature vodka. And lo and behold – a drink that had previously been mostly a novelty suddenly became extremely tasty. (For the record, plain Skyy is rapidly losing its place on her liquor shelf, although their citrus offering is still excellent.)
This is also an excellent example of how an unusual ingredient and a fancy garnish can really dress up a drink. If you ordered one of these in a nice bar, it’d probably come served by a uniformed attendant with a price tag bordering on the obscene.
Adam & Eve Martini
2 ounces good-quality vodka
3 ounces apple puree (stage 1 baby food works best)
1 ounce Wild Hibiscus syrup
1 hibiscus blossom + maraschino cherry for garnish
Take one hibiscus blossom and stuff it with a maraschino cherry. Shake the rest of the ingredients with ice, then strain into glass. Spear the flower/cherry garnish with a chopstick and lay across the top of your cocktail glass.
While technically an original recipe, at least part of the credit for this drink goes to the (sadly unknown) bartender who was working the pool party at Bisbee Pride last weekend. The poolside bar was surprisingly well-stocked, and upon arrival at the head of the line a bottle of Ketel One Oranje caught your Bartender’s eye. Asking the attendant what she recommended to go with it, she gave it a moment’s thought and said, “Cranberry juice and 7up.” And really, given that context, what kind of even halfway-adventuresome person would say no to a little experimentation?
Admittedly, the end result you see here is rather different from that first trial. For one thing, the version she poured was nearly half vodka, and tasted like it; for another, it was a bit oversweet, and lacked a certain complexity that the Bartender appreciates in a drink. However, it had potential, and looking around at the bevy of fruity types around at that moment, it seemed appropriate that the Bartender find some way to commemorate the occasion in the way its participants would most appreciate: in drink.
Bisbee Fruit Salad
1 ounce Ketel One Oranje
3/4 ounce melon liqueur
Pour orange vodka and melon liqueur over ice in rocks glass. Fill until three-quarters full with cranberry juice; top with seltzer water. Garnish with fresh raspberries and a sprig of mint.
Note: This recipe can easily be adapted for a tall glass as well; however, you may wish to increase the proportions of the alcoholic ingredients to maintain the balance of flavors.
Funny thing about buying pomegranate juice to make grenadine – you end up with a lot of juice left over. Not one to waste perfectly good ingredients, the Bartender flipped back through some of her older recipes to see if there were any that might prove assistive in putting the stuff to use.
This particular recipe actually proved doubly helpful; a while back, she had also purchased a bottle of Cîroc, but it had proven too bitter for her initial “shake it up straight for a martini” idea. The fruity richness that sets it apart from other vodkas, however, both stands up to and complements the strong flavor of the pomegranate juice, while said flavor is more than enough to hide the vodka’s bitterness that otherwise comes out along the sides of the tongue.
Should you find yourself without grape-based vodka, however, your regular mixer should do the trick, if with a slight loss in depth of flavor.
1 1/2 ounces Cîroc vodka
1 1/2 ounces pomegranate juice
3/4 ounce triple sec
Pour first three ingredients into the shaker; add ice and squeeze lime wedge into it. Shake and strain into chilled martini glass. Garnish with a lime wheel, or something involving pomegranate seeds if you’re feeling extra-creative.
Aside from sounding like an inn in medieval Europe, this is a delightful drink that makes for an excellent summer afternoon pick-me-up (or put-me-down – it may not taste like it, but the Duchess is blushing for a reason!). It’s also one of the few drinks that needs no extra touches for presentation; a mint sprig would add a nice dash of color if one is feeling particularly ambitious, but otherwise, the drink itself is lovely to behold.
A few notes regarding the ingredients:
- Turbinado sugar is a type of raw sugar that you can find for obscene prices in the supermarket’s baking aisle, or for quite reasonable prices in bulk at the local co-op or health food store. (If you’ve ever tried Sugar in the Raw, you know what to look for.) You can substitute plain white sugar in a pinch, but turbinado has the dual advantage of the superior flavor and prettier presentation.
- The quality of your grapefruit will make a significant difference here; if you can get it, the Bartender especially recommends fresh Arizona grapefruit due to its soft texture and sweeter flavor. Be careful, though – the stuff is like citrus crack. Once you start buying it you may not be able to stop.
- The recipe is originally from Grey Goose’s website (with, of course, a couple of tweaks); the Bartender discovered it as part of her ongoing campaign to find a drink that makes the stuff worth the $30ish price tag. Having tried it with both Goose and with Skyy (her standby mixer), she can safely recommend that one use higher-quality vodka in this drink; the grapefruit helps hide the harshness, but Skyy’s bitter flavor still came out strongly. If you don’t feel like shelling out for Goose, however, something less expensive but still quality like Ketel One would probably do the trick nicely. Edit, 4/27/11: Having tried it with Ketel One, the Bartender actually recommends it over Goose for this drink – K-1′s citrus overtones, rather than being overwhelmed as expected, in fact complement the grapefruit beautifully.
And now, the recipe!
3 wedges of grapefruit, peeled/seeded
2 ounces vodka
1 ounce triple sec
Run the inside of a grapefruit peel around the rim of a rocks glass and coat it with turbinado sugar. Roll the grapefruit wedges in remaining sugar and put them in the bottom of a shaker; muddle vigorously. Add vodka, triple sec, and ice; shake, then pour everything (including ice and grapefruit wedges) into the rocks glass. Squeeze the wedge of lime into the drink and serve!
After the Bartender waved goodbye to the last batch of guests (Rebel Houseguests?), she discovered to her delight that they had left a present on her home bar; specifically, a bottle of Grey Goose La Poire. This particular spirit had been on her to-try list for a while – pear vodka is fairly unusual – but given its cost and her generally-unimpressed reaction to the classic Goose, it had never quite made it to an actual purchase. So what better way to try the stuff out than on someone else’s dime?
Fortunately, it’s a much more interesting spirit than plain Grey Goose. Surprisingly strong and non-sweet for such a fruity spirit, it could add an extra dimension to a number of drinks, and likely wouldn’t need to be used in large quantities to do so. This Peartini recipe is an exception, designed to complement and show off La Poire’s qualities. It comes originally from the Grey Goose website, although the Bartender has done a bit of tweaking to get the sweet-sour balance just right – hence the name.
2 ounces Grey Goose La Poire
1/4 ounce amaretto
3/4 ounce syrup
1/2 ounce lemon juice
1 ripe pear
Shake all (liquid) ingredients and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Cut a thin, nearly translucent slice of pear and lay it along the inside of the glass. Enjoy the rest of the pear with the martini – they’re tasty!
Given that it’s Vodka Week, and given that the Bartender has (until today) been short a set of shot glasses to properly freeze, she has been evaluating each in the next best medium: the vodka martini. Not only has it provided a framework within which each spirit can display its talents, but her general preference for gin martinis has assured her ability to simultaneously discern the vermouth from the spirit itself, judge how the two combine (if at all), and also to analyze how the vodka versions stack up in terms of overall flavor.
The vodka martini is perhaps best-known as James Bond’s preferred drink, and as with so many things, Agent 007 knew exactly the right way to do it. “Ice cold” is your watchphrase here, and as we’ve learned, shaking tends to make a drink colder and slightly more diluted than stirring. Gin martinis are traditionally stirred, true, but a vodka martini both benefits from the additional chill of shaking and bears the dilution far better than its cousin.
One final note: while the Bartender does not believe in bone-dry Martinis of either sort (what’s the point of making the Martini if there’s no vermouth flavor to complement the spirit?), vodka has a naturally subtler flavor than gin, and therefore works best in a drier setting. Your ultimate preferred proportions will likely take a few tries to discover, but hey – the trial-and-error is part of the fun!
2 oz. high-quality vodka
1/4 oz. dry vermouth
Shake both ingredients with a good handful of ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with your favorite Martini garnish – lemon twist, olives, cocktail onion, etc. Bonus points if you manage to come up with a garnish especially appropriate to the vodka brand used.
Almost everyone has heard of the Apple Martini, or Appletini, although no one can quite seem to agree on how to make it. Most versions are frankly plain in taste, and the Bartender is still working on finding one interesting enough to bear her signature. That said, this variation has a bit of pizzazz that the straight version lacks, and makes for a nice surprise when a friend expects to get plain ol’ alcohol-laced apple juice.
Italian Apple Martini
1 oz vanilla vodka
1 oz 100% apple juice
1 oz amaretto
3/4 oz sour apple schnapps
Squeeze of lime
Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish options include a lime wheel, an apple slice, a vanilla bean, or the green paper ribbon bow that happens to be sitting on the bedside table.
Source: The Bartender honestly can’t remember – this was one of her first real cocktail successes. Likely Drinksmixer.com, although chances are good the recipe has undergone some tweaking in the interim.
This is a twist on the Cosmo that the Rebel Bartender discovered some years ago while experimenting with a bottle of Absolut Raspberri. The taste isn’t what you’d call amazing – rather generic artificial-fruity – but it is noteworthy in one respect: it is quite possibly the most unutterably pink cocktail you will ever find,* both in color and (surprisingly enough) in flavor as well.
In addition to being pleasingly alliterative, the name struck the Bartender as appropriate – both in the sense of the Platonic Ideal of the concept “Pink”, and in the sense of “Wow, you’d really drink that? Voluntarily? More than once a year? …Maybe we should just be friends.”
And really, what better way to celebrate such a saccharine-flavored holiday than with such an artificial-looking drink?
1 1/3 oz Absolut Raspberri
1/2 oz triple sec
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
1 oz cranberry juice
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime wheel, or for a classier touch, fresh red raspberries dropped into the bottom of the glass.
*The Rebel Bartender welcomes recipes challenging this assertion. Send them in for a thorough assessment and comparison, to be written up in a future post.