I am not, generally, a vodka drinker. Vodka tastes like unfinished gin to me or, worse, unfinished whiskey which, incidentally, it is (click here for more on that). Vodka tastes like grain alcohol. That is because it’s an alcohol usually made from grain, not potatoes as most people think (though there are a few potato varieties out there). Gins and whiskies are also grain alcohols, but gin is re-distilled with botanicals, and American whiskey contains more malt and is aged in charred barrels, thus imparting the unique flavor profiles. Vodka is distilled once (wheat, corn, and/or rye with a small amount of malt) and it’s ready to drink. Vodka is basically moonshine.
Having cut my drinking teeth on screw drivers—one of the most banal drinks in the universe—vodka has never captured my imagination, despite the fact that vodka is arguably (though I wouldn’t argue it) the most popular liquor in the U.S. You can now buy vodka in almost every conceivable flavor; most of which is artificial and all of which is bad. OK, a slight exaggeration on my part, but only slight. All that being said, vodka certainly has a well-earned place in the cocktail canon. The problem is that most vodka cocktails are simply awful. Sub-standard vodka with artificial flavors and colors combined with bottled mixes and served in gigantic glasses. If that’s your thing, go back to Screwdrivers (or as they were once called, a Golden Screw, which sounds slightly rude). At least you’ll get your vitamin C.
Vodka, being virtually tasteless compared to the other base liquors of whiskey, gin, brandy, and rum, mixes with just about everything. When mixed, it will generally take a backseat to the other flavors, adding alcohol without a significant amount of taste. However, if used intelligently, vodka can give you a very satisfying drink.
1 oz Cognac
1 oz Vodka
1/2 oz Lime Juice (fresh)
1/4 oz Simple Syrup
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Adjust the amount of lime juice and sugar to taste.
I hope it goes without saying that the vodka should be of the non-flavored variety and of a decent quality. Good vodka is a fine thing.
So, the next time you feel like forming your own independent, democratic, self-governing, semi-military community and raid a Tatar village, have one of these and grab your shashka.
Бог з нами , язичники , здача!