I like vodka. But vodka has been mercilessly maligned; it's a tasteless odorless spirit, right? It’s just a backwoods cousin to other spirits and only decent when paired with chemical-laden additives like Red Bull, or orange juice or whatever other crap you may have lying around. Uh, wrong! (And for you college kids out there, pull up your pants, get serious about vodka, and quit whining about your future). Vodka can be alluring, smooth, and packed with flavor elements better suited to other spirits. So when the book Vodka Distilled came out by master cocktail guy Tony Abou-Ganim I thought, finally, someone else loves vodka like I do. Tony writes: “For reasons that largely escape me it has become vogue in some bartending corners to bash vodka. Despite the widely held view to the contrary, all vodkas are not the same. Think about tasting and comparing one vodka to another, not as comparing apples and oranges, but akin to comparing apples to apples…apples of the same variety grown in different orchards…” And here I slightly disagree, yes the banality of mass produced vodka is terrorizing to the palate, but I have discovered a world of subtle nuances and tastes with artisanal vodka. Tony's book celebrates vodka in all its diversity; corn, wheat, and potato iterations. You'll find a wealth of information and recipes about creating the best vodka-based cocktails and what to look for so you don’t waste your time and money. There’s even a round up of 58 vodkas (including Boyd & Blair – one of my personal favorites) in the back with thorough tasting notes. This is a terrific book by a guy who knows his spirits and I’m thrilled to recommend it.
Vodka Distilled: The Modern Mixologist on Vodka and Vodka Cocktails – published by Agate Publishing, $22.95 hardback. 208 pages, color photos.