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Diatribe: Why So Many Vodka Flavors?

04/09/2012

I had my first real cocktail on my 21st birthday.  My mother and stepfather treated me to dinner at a somewhat upscale restaurant near town to celebrate and, because I had reached legal age, suggested that I order a drink.  I didn’t know anything about mixed drinks but I understood that some of them could be complicated to prepare and others were quite fancy in appearance.  I don’t remember why, but I ordered a Rusty Nail.  A Rusty Nail is made by mixing Drambuie and Scotch Whisky and is usually served in an old-fashioned highball glass on the rocks.  I tried it, feeling extraordinarily adult and rather fancy, and I gagged.  I thought it was just awful.  “This is what drinking is about?” I thought to myself, disappointed.  Of course, since that day I’ve discovered that there are many different cocktails that I do enjoy.

Our friends and neighbors love to enjoy an occasional cocktail when we’re working outside or just lazing about chatting.  They’re the most generous and gracious hosts and will often present us with wonderful unsolicited screwdrivers at precisely the right moment.  I’m not a heavy drinker by any means but there’s something about the drinks that these friends share with us that are really special.  I think the attitude with which they are served somehow makes them taste just a little better.  As a periodic thank you gesture, we give them a bottle of vodka.  I visit a local liquor store that carries brand names and products that are sometimes unusual, rare or simply hard to find hoping to surprise them with different brands.  We’ve tried Absolut, Grey Goose, Ketel One, Belvedere, Stolichnaya, Skye, Smirnoff, Tito’s Handmade and others.  Everyone has a favorite, but it’s fun to enjoy a variety, too.

On my last vodka-shopping expedition I was surprised to discover that, instead of the collection of premium vodkas from which I would normally make my selection, I was offered a variety flavored vodkas.  There were probably, without exaggeration, more than a dozen different flavors of vodka and not one bottle that didn’t have a flavor.  I don’t get it.  Why does vodka need to come in so many flavors?  If you want orange-flavored vodka you can put an orange in plain vodka.  It you want Snickers-flavored vodka you can put a Snickers bar in regular vodka.  I thought vodka was vodka.  Why does it need to taste like cotton candy or pomegranates?

Eventually, I found a bottle that I thought might work best at an impromptu happy hour.  And, the more I think about our friends and their adult beverages, I realize they’re so genuinely kind that any flavor they serve will taste fantastic.  Perhaps a good cocktail is more about the love that goes into it than the flavors.

What’s YOUR drink of choice?

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20 Comments
  1. I’m like you — I don’t understand all these variations on a theme. I’m a martini purist. Give me a martini made with Beefeater gin (to me, even a vodka martini is a bastard martini). I was in a restaurant recently that featured a “bourbon martini” — bourbon, vermouth, shaken over ice and served in a martini glass. I thought, “You idiots — that’s a freakin’ Manhattan.”

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  2. My drink of choice is something I call The Bob-a-rita.
    It’s Repsoado Tequila, with Lime Juice and Grand Marnier, chilled and served straight up.
    Delicioso.

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  3. anne marie in philly permalink

    (1) a cosmo

    (2) a gin & tonic with a twist of lemon

    (3) a chocolate martini

    not necessarily in that order; depends on my mood.

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  4. All of these vodkas are designed for one market — teens and young 20s. Whipped Cream Vodka? Do you think anyone under 30 would drink that?

    I think it’s a dangerous trend. That’s what they’re drinking instead of lower alcohol beer on college campuses.

    Like flavored cigarettes, there is only one reason to make this stuff.

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  5. TIm permalink

    Patron Ritta… by all means..
    Great post there.

    Like

  6. wcdameron permalink

    Bombay Sapphire gin and tonic. Simple, refreshing, classy. Are you buying? 🙂

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  7. I’ll admit to loving the whipped cream flavored vodka! It’s so good with rootbeer or orange soda! I have a major sweet tooth so I like a lot of those flavored vodkas. 🙂

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  8. Didn’t know Vodka even *had* a flavor. Other than the vodka one.

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  9. I’m always partial to a strawberry daquari with fresh strawberries. I don’t know what kind of liquor they put in it (I don’t get out much I guess), but usualy not enough! 😀 Very entertainly post!

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  10. as much as my my mother hates it, my drink of choice is beer. I know, I know boring but I like knowing my limitations and I like not being disappointed with my choice. Although after reading some of these choices maybe I should branch out…

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    • I haven’t opened my botlte, and I don’t plan to. I haven’t tasted it yet (although I’ve had plenty of opportunities). If you like flavored vodkas, I think you’ll like it. The folks that like bitter, hard drinks and the type of people who prefer dry wine (yuck!), probably won’t like it I’m guessing.

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