BY ADDIE K MARTIN JULY 29, 2014
This year at Tales of the Cocktail I learned a valuable lesson – vodka is indeed the perennial spirit of summer. Believe me, I was just as shocked as the next guy. I’d long ago written off vodka as a boring, tasteless spirit that simply wasn’t worth my time. With the help of some fantastic bartenders and a few well-crafted cocktails, my perspective have shifted. I’m believer.
While I tried many different vodka-based cocktails at Tales of the Cocktail (hereon referred to as Tales), five stood out particularly above all the rest. Interestingly, what I discovered afterward is that they’re all paired with some type of citrus, which I believe is what made these drinks so utterly appealing to me. I’m a huge fan of citrus-based spirits like Aperol and Camapri. Regardless, these drinks are perfect for summertime, and since it was insidiously hot during Tales, their appeal is quite apparent. Vodka proved to be the perfect base spirit for all of these tasty concoctions.
Of the vodka-based cocktails I tried during Tales week, Absolut’s Staycation Punch was my favorite. I encountered this cocktail when I arrived at The Saint Hotel to pick up credentials for the annual Absolut Welcome Party. The drink was light in body and flavor yet packed a powerful amount of liquor. While I wasn’t able to score an exact recipe, the ingredients are Absolut Mandarin, Campari, Champagne, Suze, Dolin Blanc, Strawberry syrup, and Lavender bitters. Be still my heart!
Another highly notable cocktail for me was one simply called Elvis Presley. I tried this concoction at the actual Absolut Welcome party. It was one of the first drinks I tried there and it really stuck with me. I also like how it was served in an adorable little faux milk bottle. Priceless! Again, I got no recipe for this but the ingredients are as follows: Absolut Vodka, Absolut Mandarin, toasted orgeat, lime juice and Angostura bitters. A drink worthy of The King, to be sure!
On Thursday I attended an event entitled “Las Vegas Invades Tales of the Cocktail.” Meaning, a group of highly talented bartenders based in Las Vegas took over the Masquerade, a club-like hot spot inside Harrah’s Casino, and spoiled us all rotten with their tasty drinks. While eight total drinks were poured that evening (not all of them utilized vodka), I had two standouts that were vodka based. The first was called The Jackpot, created by Tony Abou-Ganim of The Modern Mixologist. The second was The Hang O-ver, which was born from the mind of Christopher Hopkins of the Wynn Hotel. I scored recipes for both so I’ve included them here…
by: Tony Abou-Ganim
- 1.5 oz New Amsterdam Vodka
- 0.5 oz Aperol
- 0.5 oz Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur
- 1.0 oz Ponthier Blood Orange Puree
- 1.0 oz Fresh Lime Juice
- 0.5 oz Simple Syrup
- Garnish: dried blood orange and lemon wheels
Method: Combine all ingredients (except garnish) in a shaker filled with ice, shake vigorously, and strain into in a tall glass filled with ice. Garnish and serve.
The Hang O-ver
by: Christopher Hopkins
- 1.5 oz Hangar One Vodka
- 0.75 oz Strawberry Infused Martini Blanco
- 0.5 oz Aperol
- 0.5 oz Lemon Juice
- 0.75 oz Lemon Verbena Syrup
- Garnish: a verbena sprig and atomized grapefruit bitters
Method: Combine all ingredients (except garnish) in a shaker filled with ice, shake vigorously, and strain into a rocks glass filled with ice. Garnish and serve.
The final noteworthy vodka drink that I had during Tales came my way on the very last day of the event. I visited the Deep Eddy room specifically to try their Ruby Red vodka, and I was not disappointed. It’s grapefruit based and was flavorful, light, tart and ever so slightly sweet. It was a lovely flavored vodka, to say the least. I had it in their The Ruby Slipper cocktail, which is served martini-style. Thankfully, I was able to score the recipe here as well…
The Ruby Slipper
by: Deep Eddy Vodka
- 2.0 oz Deep Eddy Ruby Red
- 1.0 oz Elderflower Liqueur (e.g., St. Germain)
- 1.0 oz Club Soda
Method: In a shaker, combine the Ruby Red with the elderflower liqueur and top with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a martini glass. Add the club soda and serve.