Cheers! October 4 is National Vodka Day!
To be perfectly honest I’m a gin, bourbon, or scotch man myself but I would never pass on a good sip of vodka. Today there should be plenty of those going around as we celebrate National Vodka Day.
Vodka is so much more than just orange juice’s best friend. It is a versatile spirit with some incredible qualities and characteristics that make it great not only for mixed drinks but straight drinking as well. It is also currently the number 1 selling spirit in the United States, outpacing bourbon.
What I appreciate about good vodka is the agreeability of it as a drink. Good quality vodka really should taste of nothing, regardless of whether it was distilled from potato, wheat, or whatever else. It should be clean and crisp with little to no after-taste and no burn. (I repeat, this is the quality of good vodka.) The ethanol, gas-like taste that so many people associate with vodka is actually a sign of poor quality. Real vodka should not be so.
Because of its neutrality vodka is also a prime spirit for infusing flavors. If you think flavored vodkas is a modern invention made popular by sickeningly sweet cheap vodkas, you would be mistaken. Vodka has been infused and flavored for centuries. It is so easy for you to do this at home also. I personally carry a good quality lemon infused vodka in my home bar and when needed I will make personal small batches infused with things like cucumber, rosemary, or clove.
If you’re tired of martinis and screwdrivers, here are a few of my favorite vodka recipes to try either the next time you’re mixing drinks at home or at your next happy hour.
The Moscow Mule
It is very hard to mess up this drink so long as you follow two very important rules. 1. Be sure to use plenty of crushed ice and 2. find yourself a copper mug to serve it in.
2 oz vodka
Lime (for juice and garnish)
Add vodka to the glass you’ll be drinking from and squeeze juice of half a lime. Fill partly with crushed ice and pour ginger beer. Top with more crushed ice and lime wheel.
The Lemon Drop
Welcome to the grown up version of your favorite childhood candy. In a drink! Tart and sweet with a punch.
2 oz vodka
.5 oz triple sec
1 oz simpe syrup
1 oz fresh lemon juice
Sugar (for rimming)
Rub a lemon wedge along the rim of half of your glass. Dip and spin into the sugar and set aside to let the sugar set and dry. Add the remaining ingredients into a shaker with ice and shake. Strain into glass.
This utilizes vodka’s ability to incorporate herbal notes without being overpowering.
1 sprig rosemary
2 sprigs thyme (plus one for garnish)
2 cucumber slices (plus one for garnish)
.75 oz lime juice
.75 oz simple syrup
1.5 oz vodka
In a shaker muddle the rosemary, thyme, and cucumber with the simple syrup. Add the rest of the ingredients with ice and shake. Strain into glass and garnish with cucumber slice and thyme.
Most importantly while you enjoy your vodka don’t forget to cheer with the people you drink with. As Russia, Poland, and Sweden can convincingly claim to have invented vodka, cheer in all three!
It is a common misconception that Russians cheer with ‘Nostrovia’. This is actually a mispronunciation of ‘Na Zdrovie’ which is used to thank someone for a meal or a drink. So let’s cheer properly. ‘Vashe zrodovye’ [vashee zda-ro-vye] is a more common phrase that means ‘your health’.
‘Sto lat’ literally means ‘one hundred years’ and is used to toast to longevity and good fortune.
‘Skål’ is a Scandinavian word for ‘cheers’ but really originally meant ‘bowl’. As in, back when everyone would drink from the same vessel everyone would be calling out ‘skål’ for their turn to drink! Get in touch with your own viking roots today with this powerful drinking cheer.
And in the words of my ancestors, ‘mabuhay’! (To life)