As follow up to Cranberry Juice and Rum Drink Lab, we’re making a few cocktails with the same bottle of cranberry juice and vodka instead of rum. We enjoyed the ease of use of Shane Carley’s The Home Bartender: 175+ Cocktails with Four Ingredients or Less for making rum drinks and are exploring the section on vodka next.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine may make you want to pour your vodka down the drain, but first take a look at where it’s actually made. Vodka is a clear distilled spirit that can be made anywhere in the world (unlike cognac, for example, which comes from a defined region in France.) Different varieties of vodka have originated in Poland, Russia, and Sweden. It’s typically made by fermented cereal grains or occasionally potatoes. Vodka is typically 40% ABV and I was surprised to read that the US has set a minimum ABV of 40% – no watered-down vodka for the good ol’ US of A!
We tasted three vodkas before making cocktails; Grey Goose, made in France, Stolichnaya Elit, made in Latvia, and our newest acquisition, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, made in Austin, Texas. Vodka is intentionally a neutral spirit, but when tasted neat, there are subtle differences. Grey Goose is aromatic and floral. Tito’s has a bit of corn flavor with a hint of sweetness. Stoli is the most neutral with a dry finish. We’re using our newest addition, Tito’s, for our cocktails.
We’ve chosen the Capescrew and the Classic Cosmopolitan for tonight’s drink lab. The Capescrew is a mash up of a Screwdriver, made with vodka and orange juice, and a Cape Cod, made with vodka and cranberry juice. The Cosmo has been around for a long time, but its origin is widely disputed. A 1930’s reference to a Cosmopolitan Daisy was made with 2 jiggers of gin, Cointreau, lemon juice, and raspberry syrup. Like the martini, the favored spirit changed from gin to vodka as the cocktail emerged in the 1970’s or 80’s. It became a very popular ladies drink, spurred on by the hit show Sex and the City. I hope this nugget of information doesn’t ruin the fact that it was my drinking buddy’s favorite cranberry drink to date.
- 1 oz. vodka
- Splash of triple sec
- 1 oz. orange juice
- 1 oz. cranberry juice
Shake over ice and strain into a highball glass. (We’re using our test-size glasses for drink lab.)
As with the cranberry juice and rum drinks we tested recently, it was surprising to note how mixing cranberry and orange together produced a grapefruit flavor. The Capescrew has the same pretty salmon color as the Caribbean Cranberry Twist. The vodka gets a little lost in the mix.
- 2 oz. vodka
- 1 oz. triple sec
- 1 oz. cranberry juice
- Splash of lime juice
Shake over ice and strain into a martini glass.
The Cosmo was a clear favorite as the juices enhanced the vodka rather than covering it up. This cocktail gives us a good reason to finish the rest of that big bottle of cranberry juice. I’m looking forward to making one improvement next time; using Cointreau instead of our generic triple sec.