In a blind tasting of seven vodkas, turned out my overall favorite is Cîroc
, which is grain-free and made from grapes. It's really crisp, clean and bright with citrus aromas and essence that make it a fine choice for making a drink like a Lemon Drop or a Cosmopolitan.
None of this did I know before attending "The Original Modern Mixologist," Tony Abou-Ganim
's excellent and informative vodka presentation and dinner this past Tuesday evening at the Summit at The Broadmoor
As an addition to our media previews of the new Ristorante del Lago
and Natural Epicurean
, we were treated to this event, where the master mixologist led us through the tasting for roughly an hour, before we all enjoyed a fantastic four-course meal (by chef de cuisine Mark Musial and his team) paired with three vodka cocktails (and one red wine).
I'll share photos with dish and cocktail descriptions below, and certainly won't try to educate you here on everything we learned (which was quite a bit). Buy Abou-Ganim's book Vodka Distilled
for everything you ever wanted to know about vodka, plus a bunch of his best recipes (three of which we had with dinner).
You can read more about the mixologist at the above link to his website, but just knowing that Steve Wynn picked him to lead the Bellagio's bar program in Las Vegas in the late '90s says enough about his credentials.
He did gift us a four-page cheat sheet that details vodka's history, production methods and a handy guide to tasting descriptors, which I will share with you here:
That document did assist us through our blind tasting, where we learned tricks to determining such aspects as whether a vodka was made with winter wheat (note the salivary drip on the back sides of your tongue) as Absolut
is, or maybe rye (observe the vegetal flavors and long finish) like Belvedere
Due to the 40-percent ABV nature of the spirit, testing the aromas is done with one's nose partly in the glass and inhaling through both the nose and mouth at the same time (as the alcohol vapors coming off the hooch will burn the nose alone, ruining one's abilities to pick out the subtle smells). People around you will make funny faces, and that's part of the fun, we learned.
Anyway, personally, I've found a whole new appreciation for the spirit, much as I did when I drank scotch with a Scottish master distiller
or sampled an abundance of bourbons with a local spirits expert
On to the photos: