Mixology Monday: vodka is [not] your friend

vodka-pastis cocktail

This month’s Mixology Monday, hosted by Felicia’s Speakeasy, has the regrettable theme of Vodka is Your Friend. I wish I could concur, but I can’t really say that vodka has been my friend in the past. In fact, most of my interactions with vodka have involved a certain acquaintance who likes instant cocktail mixes, usually mixed much too large and strong, and inevitably leading to a conversation with Ralph on the big white phone (for her, anyway – I tend to just feel ill for days). But we needn’t talk about that.

So I was trying to think of anything I’ve had with vodka that I actually liked. I will occasionally try a Bloody Mary, but I usually find that I can only drink about two inches down the glass before I get tired of it. Vodka tonics hold no interest for me at all, and neither do vodka martinis. I like gin, what can I say?

Then I remembered a drink I had many years ago, at Campagne in Seattle. It was called Nuage de Pastis, and at the time I thought it was fantastic.  I’ve been unable to find any record of the drink online, but I remembered it as a primarily vodka cocktail with an orange twist and a float of pastis (French anise liqueur) which “snowed” down into the vodka. It was beautiful and delicious. I decided to try to recreate it, with my husband’s assistance. We shook up two ounces of vodka with ice, strained it over a fresh orange twist, and spooned a little Pernod over the top.

Suffice it to say, it didn’t work out. It came out pretty enough (see the pic at the top) although we didn’t quite get the pastis to float; it clouded down into the glass fairly quickly. The flavor, though, was like a regular pastis-and-water cocktail at first, except that it was too strong to drink fast, and not particularly refreshing. As the drink sat it began to take on a weird flavor of mothballs. I have no idea if I remembered the ingredients incorrectly, or if my tastes have simply changed. If anyone else remembers a drink like this I’d be happy to compare notes.

This time, though, I set it aside and poured myself a glass of gin and bitters. No more vodka for me for a while.

Note 8/12/09: I’m not the only one with vodka issues. Check out the MxMo roundup here.

5 thoughts on “Mixology Monday: vodka is [not] your friend

  1. but wait… I finally made G a reasonable vodka martini tho the potato hooch in question was not in the freezer, I did manage to maintain the icy glaze floating on the surface and I did forgo the lemon zest or olive so this was as pure as pure can be even with just a tick fart of Vya vermouth but after reading this post, I’m still feeling inadequate… sniff. Ummm, I actually prefer gin… shhhh…


    1. I’ve just never quite “gotten” vodka. I love the icy glaze on top of a good cold cocktail, but I can’t quite get behind alcohol that I can’t taste. Is that a personal failing? Oh, well, I can handle that.

  2. It has been quite some time since Jessamyn wrote this, but in the intervening time, not a whole lot has happened to change our minds about vodka. We haev learned a few things, though. We used to always keep our vodka in the freezer. Not sure why; we had just heard at some point along the way that that’s how it was done. More recently, though, it was pointed out to me that the only reason to do that is if you prefer to drink your vodka neat (and if you do that, you’re a fool, as far as I’m concerned). If the vodka is already freezer temperature, then shaking or stirring it with ice does absolutely nothing (Absolut Nothing?). Since the vodka is the same temp as the ice cubes, none of the ice melts, and your vodka does not get diluted. Great if your goal is to get as drunk as possible in as little time as possible, but otherwise stupid. Second, we learned that there is supposedly a difference between Scandinavian and Russian vodkas, in terms of mouthfeel. We tried samples of Stoli and Absolut side by side, and thought maybe we could tell a slight difference, but it was minor, and we still didn’t really like either. I might be interested in trying Monopolowa potato vodka, but in the long run, there are plenty of other types of booze that I do like, so why bother?

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