Let’s get this out of the way first thing: The Bartender has never been a vodka drinker. Oh, she’s used the stuff regularly – it’s practically impossible to earn one’s mixology credentials in America without doing so. And it’s an absolutely unparalleled choice for giving a bit of alcoholic kick to any juice concoction you might come up with. What better than a neutral spirit to blend without unbalancing your careful mixing of flavors?
However, it’s difficult to get far in American cocktail culture without realizing that vodka is far from just a mixer on these shores. It has encroached on several gin drinks in the form of the vodka martini or vodka-and-tonic; the Bartender once had a spirited discussion with the person at the counter of a dive bar in Alaska who was convinced that a Greyhound consisted of vodka and grapefruit juice. (This despite the fact that the entire point of a Greyhound, and indeed the reason it has attained “classic drink” status, is the way the gin and grapefruit flavors complement each other, whereas vodka in grapefruit juice tastes like – wait for it – grapefruit juice! Ahem.) And then there are the die-hard fans who will drink the stuff straight, usually from the freezer.
This certainly explains the myriad brands available on the market – after all, if the stuff were truly tasteless, it wouldn’t much matter whether you used Grey Goose or Svedka – even if it still leaves the source of the attraction mysterious. However, the Bartender is nothing if not open-minded, and several of her friends who fall into the vodka-drinking camp are planning a visit later this month. Therefore, now seems like a good time to build up a stock of premium vodkas, experiment with them in vodka-centric cocktails, and generally attempt to gain more familiarity with a particular segment of bartending that she has avoided thus far.
Is vodka, like gin and whiskey, merely an acquired taste? Will the Bartender discover a well-hidden love for the stuff over the next several days? Or is she dooming herself to a bleak period of medicinal and depressingly bland cocktails, with only the thought of a good stiff gin martini at the end of it to keep her going?
Stay tuned! The most thrilling part of our tale is yet to come!
*The Bartender reserves the right to change the actual chronological length of Vodka Week at her discretion, but maintains that “Vodka Week” sounds rather snappier than “Vodka Week-Plus-A-Day-Or-Three” or “Vodka Indeterminate-Diurnal-Period”.