Earlier today I came across an interesting article written by a woman named Jen Agg, who with her partner Grant van Gameren, runs a Toronto based restaurant called The Black Hoof & Company. The title of the article couldn’t be more straightforward: Vodka is Stupid. And I absolutely love it.
The gist of what she wrote is that here in North America, and surely in other parts of the world, high-end vodka like Grey Goose or Belvedere is so distilled that it effectively tastes like nothing. Zip, zilch, nada. So when you order, say, a vodka Red Bull, you’re basically drinking an alcoholic Red Bull that still tastes like shitty, cough syrup. In her own words:
A vodka martini ought to be renamed “I like being drunk” because that is its only purpose. Whereas the pleasure of sipping a well-made Manhattan is its own fun, the slight buzzy inhibitions of alcohol, just a pleasing side effect. Why wouldn’t you want your drink to taste like anything?
But it’s not fair to compare a silly, boring drink like a vodka martini to a flavour bomb like The Manhattan. Even worse is the dirty vodka martini. If your desperation for flavour has you drinking olive brine, just drink gin. Please. Gin is vodka’s smarter, classier, more worldly older sister. Vodka wants to go clubbing and hook up with Johnny Redbull, that hot guy she met last week (who’s not actually that hot and wears too much cologne). Gin wants to have dinner, a little wine and really talk about stuff, like politics and indie rock.
I totally and wholeheartedly agree with what Jen is saying. I drank vodka when I was 19 because I didn’t know any better… like 10 shots in a night kind of not knowing any better. Eventually I discovered gin and my world was transformed, simple but still flavorful, just garnished with a bit of lime. Though I have to say that even gin has had the same thing starting to happen. For a while I was making my gin and tonics with Hendrick’s, but honestly, it’s so filtered that it doesn’t really taste like anything to me, either. So I stick with Bombay Sapphire which has just the right amount of flavor.
Now, clearly this point of view and Jen’s article doesn’t take into account flavored vodkas, or vodkas which aren’t filtered and could be from a different country. Say, If you add some rosemary and some sage, and hell, some bacon into some vodka and let it infuse, I’m sure it would taste awesome. That’s not being contended. But, if you drink artificially flavored vodkas like Smirnoff blueberry or watermelon, well, that’s still pretty gross in my opinion.
Anyhow, the point of all of this is simple. Drink alcohol that actually tastes like something, don’t waste your money on vodka that’s marketed as being better just because it’s expensive. You should also check out the Black Hoof’s drink list, they’ve got some pretty legit looking cocktails on there.