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Playboy Bar: Vodka
  • November 30, 2011 : 20:11
  • comments

The Juice on the Juice

Unlike all other liquors, which are made in specific places with local ingredients according to age-old traditions, vodka can be made anywhere out of anything—grain, potatoes, beets, grapes, even sugarcane. You could probably wring it out of your favorite old sweater. It’s nothing but watered-down ethyl alcohol, and it can flow straight from the still to your glass, no aging necessary. Hang around bars enough and you’ll find old men who remember when vodka was introduced to this country from Russia in the 1930s. Smirnoff was the first (slogan: Smirnoff White Whiskey—No Smell, No Taste). Today vodka is America’s most guzzled spirit. It’s the denim jeans of liquor—easy to slip into and goes with almost anything (especially your favorite old sweater). Answers to a couple of FAQs: Yes, quality vodka contains fewer esters than whiskey, which means less Advil in the morning. No, it doesn’t work well in a Molotov cocktail.

Best Shot

You never know when a friend, or an enemy, will stop by. We recommend keeping a vodka bottle and two shot glasses in the freezer at all times. For a smooth, velvety throwback, spend the extra few bucks on Stoli Elit ($60). It’s made in Russia from wheat and rye and distilled four times.

Mixed Drinks

When it comes to mixed drinks, the pros agree: You need quality booze but not expensive booze. We use Sobeiski ($12) from Poland, the birthplace of Vodka. The finest mixers—fresh juices, high-end tonic—result in a drink that’s greater than the sum of its parts.

Our Vodka Martini

Cheap vodka in a martini? May as well stir it with a hot dog. We like Ketel One ($25), straight up with olives or even a Tomolive (a pickled green tomato). Special occasion? Try a martini with Kauffman Vintage ($250), a Russian vodka made only in years when the wheat crop is deemed superb.

The Last Buzz

A unique bottle is always a good icebreaker. She’s never heard of Reyka ($26)? Well, it’s grain vodka made from pure glacial water, distilled using geothermal heat in the tiny Icelandic village of Borgarnes and filtered over 4,000-year-old lava rock. Splash of tonic?

For him: Bloody Mary

Recipe from New York’s St. Regis Hotel, where this staple was first served in the U.S.
2 oz. vodka
4 to 5 oz. tomato juice
3 to 4 dashes Lea & Perrins
Worcestershire sauce
2 to 4 dashes Tabasco sauce
1/3 tsp. celery salt
Pinch black pepper
Pinch white pepper
Juice of a quarter of a lemon
Pour vodka over ice in a highball glass. Shake the remaining ingredients with ice and strain into the glass. Garnish with a lemon wedge.

For her: Vodka Peach Iced Tea

Created by Jason Ashe of Ava lounge at the Dream Hotel, New York.
2 oz. fresh-brewed unsweetened
iced tea
1 1/2 oz. peach vodka
1/2 oz. peach liqueur
Place all ingredients in a shaker and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a fresh peach slice.

For the party: Vodka Punch

Courtesy of Jonathan Pogash of the World Bar at Trump World Tower, New York. Serves 15 to 20.
1 750 ml. bottle vodka
12 oz. passion-fruit juice
12 oz. cranberry juice
Juice of 5 lemons
1/2 cup superfine sugar
12 oz. Moët & Chandon White
Star Champagne
Lime, lemon and orange slices
Combine all the above in a punch bowl with ice cubes. Stir well, making sure all the sugar has dissolved. Serve in punch glasses.

How the Russians Do It

“No cocktails. Straight up. Neat. No rocks. Bottoms up. After finishing the vodka, put the shot glass upside down on the table to show that not a single drop has been wasted. Russians never pour vodka into their own glass; pour it for your friends but not for yourself. If you pour a glass to overflowing, you will have a full life. Russians never drink without a toast. We say, ‘Za zdorovye’ (‘To health’). Russians never leave any vodka on the table. They finish it, and all the empty bottles go under the table.”—Roman Kaplan, owner, Russian Samovar, New York

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