The news of the world has many of us justifiably concerned for ourselves and the people of Ukraine. It also brings back to the forefront of my mind a life-long hostility of Russia. I am, after all, a child of the cold war. I went to high school in Germany when it was split in two. I was stationed there again before the wall came down. I am acutely aware of the capabilities of that country.
What does all of that have to do with gratitude and joy? Vodka .. that’s what. The distilled spirit is my beverage of choice for cocktails. I have spent years trying various vodkas. I am a bit of a vodka connoisseur. In fact, I’ve learned a bit about the drink and feel like now is the time to share.
Vodka, while commonly considered to be a Russian beverage, actually has its roots in Sweden, Poland and Russia. The world’s first written mention of it is in 1405 in Polish court documents. It’s made from grains or potatoes and is best served ice cold. OK … enough with the history lesson.
Here’s why I’m grateful for American-made vodka. It’s the perfect mixer! I think vodka lets the other flavors of your cocktail shine through. Whether it’s the ginger beer in a mule or the orange juice of a screwdriver, vodka is mostly flavorless, so you get those other tastes on your tongue.
It’s the perfect base for a martini (Greg likes gin, but he’s weird). In fact, it’s the essential ingredient in dozens of martini spin-offs.
And here’s the best part: There are loads of American-made options. You can get vodka made in Virginia, Washington, Texas, Hawaii … all over the USA. Go ahead … google it. Tito’s is a bar staple everywhere. It’s a corn vodka made in the Lone Star State. But some names you’d swear are Russian are actually American-made. Did you know Smirnoff is distilled in Illinois?
I’ve tried many vodkas, and my favorite is made in Idaho, with American Russet Burbank potatoes — Blue Ice! My go-to cocktail is a simple vodka tonic with lemon juice squeezed from the lemons I grow in my backyard. It’s simple, tasty and refreshing. An icy cold cocktail at the end of a long day is a wonderful reason to be grateful and joyous.
There’s a whole world out there just waiting to be explored. Toast your adventures with American-made vodka.
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