Vodka

Drinking: Good For You And The Planet

5 October 2011

Let me start by saying that I enjoyed my taste of VeeV, a clear spirit distilled from Idaho winter wheat. Alone, it tasted sweet and smooth, with a distinct berry note from the infusion of açaí. Shaken with fresh lime juice and sage leaves, the VeeV made for quite a delightful cocktail. The citrus cut through the inherent sweetness of the 60-proof liqueur, and the sage added an unexpected twist.

VeeV’s marketing campaign is a little harder to stomach. The brochure I received makes only one oblique reference to VeeV’s taste, focusing instead on the health benefits of the açaí berry, “the world’s preeminent superfruit,” according to the VeeV website. This Amazonian wonderberry is Oprah’s #1 superfood, a promotional brochure reassures us, with “57% more antioxidants than pomegranates.”

Never mind that clinical studies have failed to show that antioxidants prevent chronic diseases such as cancer or heart disease. And exactly how much of that big bottle of booze is actually açaí berry anyway?

The second half of the brochure’s cover goes on to tout the company’s green initiatives. VeeV (or rather, the consumer) donates $1 per bottle to rainforest preservation, wind power provides part of the distillery’s electricity and carbon offsets ensure that the company is carbon neutral. All of which is very admirable, if tangential to the flavor of the spirit.

So, basically, if you’re seeking a pseudo-health liqueur which goes out of its way to assuage your guilty consumer conscience, by all means, drink up. You can “Drink Better. Live Better. See how at veevlife.com.”

Personally, I prefer not to pretend that 60-proof alcohol is a health food. I think I’ll be getting advice on how to “live better” elsewhere.

VeeV: Available for $30 a bottle at Binny’s.

To make the cocktail described above, shake two parts VeeV (or berry-flavored vodka), one part fresh lime juice, a dash of simple syrup and two fresh sage leaves vigorously with ice. Strain in a martini glass, and garnish with a fresh sage leaf or a lime slice.

Drinking And Driving

9 September 2011

When taking a road trip, bringing along the appropriate beverage is crucial. And though my paternal grandfather reportedly used to declare, “You’re never really too drunk to drive,” I err on the side of caution and pack some non-alcoholic treats.

My current #1 road trip drink is Reed’s Extra Ginger Brew, an “All Natural Jamaican Style” ginger beer. Sold in packs of four bottles, this ginger beer, unlike regular ginger ales, is “carefully brewed and aged like fine wine in small batches by [Reed’s’] expert brewmasters,” according to the website.

However they make it, the ginger beer tastes delicious, with small bubbles and a powerfully spicy ginger kick (sure to keep you awake while driving). It lacks caffeine, but since caffeine is a diuretic, that can perhaps be an advantage.

Once you reach your destination, you can save any leftover bottles for the trip home, or even better, make a proper cocktail. My favorites are the Dark ‘n’ Stormy and the Moscow Mule:

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Soak It In Some Vodka

16 August 2011

Many an upscale cocktail bar like to tout specialty drinks concocted with house-made vodka infusions. It’s not difficult to make vodka infusions at home, however, and it can be a hoot to experiment with different flavors.

I recently bought some produce at the neighborhood farmers market, and the vendor thoughtfully gave me a bunch of lemon basil to try. It didn’t quite work with the roasted vegetables and sausage I made that evening, but the fresh herb sounded perfect for an infusion.

I found an old jam jar and filled it up with Sobieski Vodka, my favorite home brand. Imported from Poland, this vodka is distilled from 100% Dankowski Rye. “Real vodka is not made from grapes or soybeans,” the Sobieski website declares, before asserting that “Distilling vodka one more time than the next guy does not make it better.”

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Summer Special

15 April 2011

While sitting at the bar of a neighborhood restaurant recently, I noticed the owners perusing a book of 300 cocktail recipes. I asked, indicating the book, if they were trying to expand their cocktail menu.

“Yes, we’re trying to decide on a new cocktail to offer as a summer special.”

A wonderful idea. I find it delightfully restorative to relax on a bar’s patio, languidly sipping a glass of something cool and bright. I offered a couple of my own suggestions (see below), and returned to munching on my pork cutlet.

Then I overheard something a little startling:

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