I’m not the biggest vodka fan if I’m honest, not like I love all things gin. I used to drink a lot of it in my youth, and of course by a lot I mean far too much. Enough to make me quite sick of it anyway and for a long time we had the decency to stay away from each other out of mutual contempt. However, about 18 months ago we were reunited in a most wonderful way and though I would hardly describe myself as having ‘not looked back since’ I would say that my appreciation for it has grown far beyond those less than halcyon days.
Back then vodka was considered the ‘tasteless’ alcohol. You’d tell yourself that vodka and coke was just very alcoholic coke, and bottles would be consumed with lots of sugary drinks until we were all crying into each other’s armpits. Of course vodka, when you’re drinking the crap we did back at school (relax, I’m not talking grazed knees and jumpers for goalposts age, I was a late bloomer so to speak!) does indeed have a taste and if we’re honest it’s not very nice. Still more subtle than a bad tequila, because that shit just makes me gag, but not really something you would roll over your tongue and savour.
My reunion with vodka was a very different drink to back then. Firstly, it was good quality vodka, which can mean the difference between drinking a clean, crisp liquid and gagging on a thick goop that makes the very atmosphere distort like tarmac in a heatwave. Secondly, and more importantly however, it was flavoured. Now I’ve no doubt that any vodka purists (fnar fnar) out there will be reeling at that statement, and that’s fair enough… but this was the drink that really got me seeing the potential for vodka, unlike other spirits.
I’m going to stop you right now and make it quite clear that I am not talking about Smirnoff or Absolut and their flavoured vodkas, none of which interest me in the slightest.
This vodka was served as part of what I can only describe as a ‘drinking experience’ in our favourite bar back in London: Lounge Bohemia. Paul, the genius mixologist behind the drinks, created what he called the ‘Russian Breakfast’ and the drink was dark chocolate flavoured vodka. I still have no idea how the flavour was achieved, because every chocolate vodka infusion I have found leaves the vodka looking like it’s been scooped out of a blocked toilet. No, this vodka was crystal clear, and when I say it was dark chocolate flavoured, I mean that if you closed your eyes and took a sip, you would find yourself trying to figure out how you could be consuming pure cocoa in liquid form. It was that good.
But I’m not here to write about one drink, and since that day we have experimented with various vodka infusions and with varying success, so I thought I would write a little about our favourites. The great thing about vodka infusions is that generally speaking they really are as simple as you’d like to think. Unlike sloe gin for example, where you have a certain weight of sloes and sugar to a certain amount of gin, with the vodka you can pretty much do it by guess work. The other major bonus is that, again unlike sloe gin, it only takes a week or two (or less depending on the infusion) to get good results.
Now, fortunately for me as I’m extremely tired this evening, I have just come to realise that the wonderful Emily over at Under A Glass Sky has already written about our vodka infusions, so I shall simply palm you off over to her site for the actual recipes we have tried! Enjoy!