Monday, August 10, 2009
MxMo XLI: Vodka is Your Friend — The Kingyo No Funi Cocktail
Well, another MixMo is upon us and lets be honest, I’ve taken a lot of months off since I last participated. Why? I can blame some of it on getting ready to join the magic at Beaker & Flask, but that will only get me so far. To be honest, I’ve just had a pretty busy life recently. I’m back though, and, surprisingly, I’m participating in a MixMo focused on vodka. As our host Amelia, over at Felicia’s Speakeasy points out;
The theme of August 10th’s Mixology Monday is “Vodka is Your Friend.” The recent high profile bashings of vodka interspersed with a few weak “yeah, buts…” left me wondering, is vodka the axis of evil, our most dangerous enemy? While it may not be the life of the party, experts agree: Vodka’s obituary does not have to be written just yet....
Vodka also offers a Zen-like simplicity. Because it is relatively flavorless, using vodka as a base of a cocktail means you get to start with a blank chalkboard. Beginner’s mind. What flavor would you like to be today?
I don’t hate vodka. I really don’t. Vodka has a very long and respectable history. There are some great artisan vodkas on the market, Martin Ryan, Apia, and the cool milk and maple sugar vodkas from Vermont Spirits are all very unique and interesting spirits. Unfortunately, they tend to be the exception rather than the rule. My issue is probably more one of fatigue than it is of anything else. Vodka drinkers by and large are a pretty boring lot. I either get the businessman who wants a bone dry vodka martini shaken with blue cheese stuffed olives extra cold but with no ice chips floating in it (A- that’s not a martini buddy, that’s merely a double vodka up B- I don’t put dairy products in my martinis and you shouldn’t either and C- Shaken? Really?) or the guest who really wants to know if I take a lot of pride in my Cosmos and when I tell her that I take pride in all of the cocktails that I make, keeps turning the conversation back to Cosmos and wanting to know if it’s the best drink I make. For the record, I make a great Cosmo. Its kind of hard not to if you’ve made over 10,000 in your bartending career and even bothered to taste one or two, but its hardly a challenge and doesn’t spur the excitement that say, a sazerac order does from me. In fact, when I get bored, I’ll oftentimes ask people if they’d like to try a new juniper flavored vodka that’s just outstanding. I’ve got some great cocktails that they’ll love if they are up for it. I live for converting vodka drinkers to gin.
As for my personal tastes, I rarely if ever consume vodka. I keep the Holy Trinity of Ketel One, Grey Goose and Belvedere on hand for guests as I’ve found that as long as you have those three, your vodka drinkers will be happy. I drink about everything else, but vodka tends to collect dust around the house. That’s what makes this MixMo so interesting for me. Here is a product that I rarely ever use, and I wanted to look at vodka in a different way. Lets move on to the cocktail and I’ll expostulate on the ingredient list more afterward.
The Kingyo No Funi Cocktail
1 oz cocoa infused Ketel One vodka (more on this later)
½ oz Good Health Brand orange drinking vinegar
¼ oz Veev acai spirit
¼ oz Rum Jumbie
3 oz fresh squeezed orange juice
2 dashes Regan’s orange bitters
2 dashes Scrappy’s chocolate bitters
2 dashes Night Train bitters (more on this later too)
Build dry in a mixing glass, add ice, shake vigorously and strained into a stemmed cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist.
How to make cocoa infused Ketel One vodka
I’d love to take credit for this idea but I saw an article in the Sunday NY Times a few weeks back about a bartender in NYC who makes a cocoa infused tequila. What is nice about cocoa infusions are that they come out exceptionally dry which is nice as a base for cocktails. Try this recipe with bourbon too. To make cocoa infused vodka, simply take 1 cup of unsweetened cocoa (I think I used Scharffenberger) and add two 750 ml bottles of Ketel One vodka. Let steep for 72 hours, then filter through a double layer of coffee filters. This takes forever to filter through but I think you’ll like the results.
How to make Night Train bitters
1 bottle Night Train fortified wine (made by the fine people at E&J Gallo. You may have to hit skid row to find this stuff)
1 stick cinnamon
½ tsp wormwood
½ tsp orris root
½ tsp calamus root
½ tsp cassia bark
1 pinch of bayberries, crushed
1 star anise pod, crushed
1 pinch quassia
Add all ingredients to a jar, cover and keep in a cool dry place for at least 1 week. Strain out solids and bottle. Look for my Thunderbird bitters to come soon.
This cocktail actually came out very well. The fruitiness of the Rum Jumbie and the Veev are a nice counterpoint to the dry cocoa vodka. The addition of the three bitters each adds an important element, but I have to say, it’s the Night Train bitters that bring this whole thing together and provide balance and depth. While I probably won’t jump at the chance to make more vodka cocktails, I’m pretty happy with this month’s submission to MixMo and its good to be back.