Since we are talking about what the new distilleries around Alberta are going to be competing with when their first bottles come off the line it would be a shame to not include vodka. It's another clear spirit that has little governance as a category and can be released immediately unlike whiskies as the eventual goal of these new players. Vodka is, generally speaking, the most confusing consumer product in the world for me, and anyone to come look at our bottles at Vinearts has heard my rant. The quick version is as follows: it is the only thing conusmers pay more to get less and quite simply this makes no sense for anything! Expertly distilled and hand-crafted spirits retain the character of the mash they are distilled from, and the only reason for not wanting that is using poor ingredients or sucking balls at the distilling process.
Ok so now that I am done the short version of my rant here's why I think that way: Vodka in it's state of nothingness add only "getting wasted" to the equation of drinking a cocktail. I don't know about you, but my life doesn't suck enough to only want 'drunk' out of my drinks. I want to taste and enjoy everything I put in my face hole. If an ingredient in cooking or cocktailing doesn't add depth or complexity or mouthfeel it doesn't belong in my life.
There are certainly vodkas becoming available now though that actually do add something tangible to a drink. The most obvious here is Schramm potato vodka from Pemberton, BC. Tastes like a whole roasted potato in your mouth, complete with sour cream, chives and bacon bits. Super delicious but, I admit it's a little extreme for vodka though holy shiznit is it great in a caesar, or bloody mary for anyone south of the border. Then there is my top 2 vodkas, Hangar 1 and Boyd & Blair.
Hangar 1 from California is the perfect vodka for a not so classic martini (they were originally not made with vodka). Instead of taking the cheap way out and using the subsidised devil's crop they use a grape known for fat and floral wines. The simple fruit sugars break down very differently when mashed and fermented than grains and thus the end result is something viscous and glass coating. The way Hanger One Straight moves in a glass is nothing short of sexy, it's like a bolero in your glass slow and sultry but with an incredibly attractive Spanish woman putting herself in compromising poses, without having any taste as you watch, it still adds something amazing.
Then there is Boyd & Blair. One of few, with the Schramm, still distilled from potatoes. But unlike Schramm the potato is soft and subtle, still present, but barely. Using all local potatoes from around Pennsylvania, they achieve magnificence. It's tricky business maintaining the falvours of potatoes while keeping it from being too savoury to work in classic vodka drinks like a Cosmopolitan or Moscow Mule, but they certainly achieve the desired affect. Bottomline their website is awkward at best, but it doesn't even matter.
Have both of these as James bond would and have your life changed.
2 parts Gin (don't use Hendricks it's too feminine)
1 part Hangar One Straight or Boyd & Blair
a splash of Cocchi Americano
Shaken over ice and strained into a chilled martini glass
add a twist of lemon and BOOM in your facehole!