Cocktail Corner – April 2017

By on April 4, 2017

By Lucky G.

Hello everyone, and welcome back to another Cocktail Corner! From what I heard from everyone I spoke to, all of you seemed to have a great St. Patrick’s Day, and really enjoyed the cocktails I presented for your drinking pleasure. Thanks for all the kind and good words – they really make what I do worthwhile. I also have to give kudos to Brooke and her friend, Amy, because they were doing a good job of getting guys to try the drinks I presented. Then, again, if you saw them in their leprechaun outfits, you’d buy anything they had to sell – wow!

Anyway, there’s no special day to celebrate in April – except April 15 for you CPA types – so I thought I’d take a break from drink-making to talk a little bit about a spirit that accounts for 20 percent of all the alcohol consumed in the U.S. – vodka. I actually thought about this when I saw a guy ordering a vodka drink on St. Patty’s Day, and he was upset that the bar didn’t have Tito’s. When I told him that Smirnoff was the next best thing, we got into a discussion about vodkas, and this made me realize that, in general, people know very little about the different brands on the market. So in order to help everyone make a more informed decision, I decided to give you a few words about some of the better-known vodkas available.

Absolut (Sweden)
Made strictly from Swedish winter wheat, and distilled four times; created in 1879 by Lars Olsson Smith, and introduced to the global market in 1979; it’s the second-largest vodka brand, and the third-largest liquor brand in the world.

Belvedere (Poland)
Made 100% from rye harvested in Poland, and distilled four times; created in 1993, it’s named after the home of the Polish President – Belweder Palace – which translates to English as “beautiful to see.”

Chopin (Poland)
Made 100% from potatoes grown in Poland, produced in small batches, and distilled four times in a copper pot still; introduced to North America in 1997, it’s named after the Polish Romantic composer, Frederic Chopin.

Grey Goose (France)
Made strictly from French winter wheat, distilled only once, and filtered through champagne limestone; created specifically for the American market by Sidney Frank, and introduced in 1997.

Karlsson’s Gold (Sweden)
Made 100% from Swedish virgin new potatoes known as Famous Gold (potatoes with a thinner skin than more mature potatoes), distilled only once and unfiltered; created by Bjore Karlsson and introduced in 2007.

Ketel One (Holland)
Made 100% from wheat, distilled three times, and named after the original pot still in which it’s made – Distilleerketel #1; created by Carolus Nolet specifically for the U.S. Market, it was introduced in 1983.

Smirnoff (U.K.)
Made 100% from corn, distilled three times, and the original vodka in the James Bond drink, the Vesper; created in 1864 by Pyotr Smirnov – changed to the French spelling Smirnoff by his son, Vladimir, after the Bolshevik Revolution; it’s the largest vodka brand, and second-largest liquor brand in the world.

Stolichnaya (Russia)
Made from a blend of Russian and Ukrainian wheat and rye, and distilled four times; created by V. G. Svirida in 1944, it was introduced to the American market exclusively by PepsiCo in 1972.

Tito’s (U.S.)
Made 100% from yellow corn, and distilled six times in a pot still; made in Austin, Texas since 1997, it’s named after founder Bert Butler Beveridge III, whose childhood nickname was “Bertito” – shortened to “Tito.”

Vox (Holland)
Made 100% from wheat, distilled five times, and filtered through neutral micron cellulose; made in the world’s oldest distillery – dating to 1575 – it placed in the top tenth percentile of best vodkas in the world by

And there you have it – a little bit of story behind some of the better-known vodka brands. Obviously, it’s only a small listing of all the vodkas on the market, but I figured that I’d talk about the brands most everyone knows about, and give you an idea of what to ask about when it comes to other vodkas. One thing to also keep in mind is that because a vodka is distilled multiple times, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a better product. The original purpose of distillation was to increase alcoholic strength, and since everything is pretty much made to the same standards, the only thing that multiple distillation does is remove more of the earthier qualities of the vodka.

This is the reason I excluded organic vodkas, because like pasteurization for dairy products, distillation pretty much negates the effect of something grown organically. That being said, there are quite a few people that like multiple-distilled vodka, because of its smoothness and clean taste – like Purity vodka, which is distilled 34 times. But just remember that vodka – by definition – is tasteless, colorless, and odorless, so multiple distillation doesn’t necessarily make for a better drink. And when you’re using mixers like sodas and juices, paying more for highly distilled vodka really isn’t necessary – unless that’s your thing. In any event, Brooke and Amy have been waiting patiently to do some chilled vodka tasting, so until next month,


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