It upset me to learn of vodka underestimated by cocktail enthusiasts. Not because I’m Russian (well, it just helps me to know more about vodka). I saw many vodka lovers and vodka haters, and I’m sure none of them knows exactly what vodka is.
I feel vodka is a tradition in Russia just like whisky in Scotland, beer in Czech or Germany, green tea in China.
Yes, good vodka should have neutral flavour, and that’s why many people prefer not to use it in cocktails. But do you know how frequently shortcomings turn to advantages? Often, very often.
So all this story is about my intention to promote vodka as superb cocktail ingredient. And first my attempt is the cocktail called The Detox. This beautiful drink has been presented by Paystyle at Umamimart (he-he, this is another valuable result of my lurking)
Original recipe contains handcrafted vodka based on grape spirits. I decided to use grain vodka which is more popular in Russia. For this cocktail I chose Finlandia, smooth vodka made of barley.
Another important ingredient is rosemary, a herb with bright pine-like smell.
First of all, I got to make rosemary-honey syrup as described in original recipe.
I took 50 ml water, brought it to boil and added 2-3 tablespoons of dried rosemary. Then I reduced heat and let simmer for 10-15 minutes.
After that I discarded rosemary, strained liquid finely through cheesecloth.
Then I dissolved 100 grams honey in 100 ml hot water and added it to rosemary water.
After stirring the syrup is ready.
Later there will be a sediment consisting of rosemary fine parts. Thoroughly pour out clarified syrup if you want to get your drink more transparent.
- 45 ml vodka,
- 30 ml fresh lemon juice,
- 15 honey-rosemary syrup,
- dash or less cayenne pepper.
Shake with ice, strain into cocktail glass with sugar-pepper rim. For rim just mix one part of cayenne pepper and four or five parts of sugar.
The first impression is the delightful aroma of fresh lemon with touches of rosemary and honey.
Well balanced sour and sweet flavour with pleasant silky mouthfeel is the second one.
Aftertaste is full of earthen and spicy notes of rosemary and gives place to the tasty honey-pepper finish, sweet and hot. In the end lemon zest and rosemary prevail but face the competition from peppery notes.
I suppose the balance between lemon and honey is the key for The Detox. These ingredients can work together perfectly but their disproportion always comes to bad taste.
Pepper is the honey good friend but also their balance is important.
Honey and pepper are usual flavours for Russian vodka so it was very interesting for me to find out how such infusions will work in The Detox.
Unfortunately, the famous Ukrainian honey-pepper gorilka was unavailable at that moment, and I tried homemade red hot pepper infusion and Ukrainian medovukha (honey and herbal flavoured vodka).
The first one was too strong for this cocktail but dashes of that infusion gave more controllable result then dash of cayenne pepper does.
The medovukha was awful and completely ruined the cocktail. Junk vodka at all.
Now I feel that the best way to get more experience with The Detox is to try it with my own blend of honey and pepper infusions that I plan to make.