Sunday, November 24, 2013

LEAF and Chopin Vodkas Express Themselves This Holiday Season

LEAF Vodka greets us with a stunning view of Lower Manhattan.

LEAF Vodka

Sometimes putting aside ones prejudices and saying yes to something that normally we would not give a second thought to can be a good thing. Take for instance a few weeks ago. We were invited to a vodka tasting at a location that promised a nonpareil view of the city. Being suckers for a grand view, and some sips of free booze, we decided to accept LEAF Vodka’s invitation to attend its NYC launch in the sky. We are happy to report that both the view and the vodka were breathtaking.

Since vodka is made up of mostly water, the folks at LEAF Vodka decided to focus on that one ingredient in its two expressions, and this proves to offer rewards most satisfying. LEAF’s solution is to the point: Make vodka using better water, but at an affordable price. So while the bottle will only set you back a little more that $15, you can relax and focus more on the content. Clean, pristine water can be found throughout the globe, and LEAF decided to focus its quest in the United States.

LEAF Vodka’s two expressions: green for Alaskan Glacial Water Vodka and Blue for Rocky Mountain Mineral Water Vodka.

First try the Rocky Mountain Mineral Water Vodka. This will taste most traditional to vodka aficionados; it is smooth and has a hint of natural mineral sweetness that occurs from aeons-old water trickling through layers and layers of stone. It is a true delight and will mix up well in a variety of traditional vodka cocktails. Try the Rocky Cucumber [SEE RECIPE BELOW], which is a riff on a classic Gimlet.

The other expression is distilled from the water of four glaciers that wends its way down Alaskan mountains into Blue Lake. We were floored by how different this expression tasted compared to the Rocky Mountain version. A little smoother and a little sweeter, you begin to wonder whether or not some sugar was added to the distillate, sort of the way some sugar is added to Champagne to alter its sweetness. But rest assured, there is no additive. It is pure and simple and exquisite. Try it in a Pink Glacier [SEE RECIPE BELOW], a variation of the classic Cosmopolitan. You’ll swear there’s no alcohol in the drink at all (until of course you start to feel a little giddy).

Pink Glacier
(created by LEAF Vodka)

2 ounces LEAF Vodka made from Alaskan Glacial Water
1 ounce lime juice
3/4 ounce simple syrup
3/4 ounce pink grapefruit juice
1/2 ounce cranberry juice
1 lime wedge

In a cocktail shaker, combine grapefruit juice, lime juice, simple syrup, vodka, and ice. Shake and strain into a martini glass. Add cranberry juice for color. Garnish with a lime.

Rocky Cucumber
(created by LEAF Vodka)

2 ounces LEAF Vodka made from Rocky Mountain Mineral Water
1 ounce lime juice
3/4 ounce simple syrup
4 cucumber slices
3 dashes hot pepper sauce
club soda

In a cocktail shaker, muddle 3 cucumber slices, hot pepper sauce, lime juice, simple syrup, and vodka. Shake and strain into an ice-filled rocks glass. Top off with soda. Garnish with a cucumber slice and an extra dash of hot pepper sauce.

❤ ❤ ❤

Chopin Vodka

Wheat, Potato and Rye
Chopin Vodkas
They used to say in an old commercial, “When it rains, it pours.” Well, it’s been pouring vodka recently at Cocktail Buzz. We were very curious about all the different expressions of Chopin, the famous Polish vodka named after one of the greatest composers of piano music, so we sampled all three of its expressions, each distilled from a different plant: potato, rye, and wheat.

If you ask, most people will tell you that vodka is distilled from potatoes. But really, vodka can be distilled from any plant, and the distinguishing characteristics of each distillation will taste different from one to the next.

Trying the potato vodka reminded us of being reunited with an old friend. Its taste is traditional, smooth and creamy, with a slight sweetness that plays pleasantly with your taste buds. Chopin (the distiller, not the composer) suggests you pair it with a dirty martini when eating a classic steak. Try the Chopin Extra Olives “CEO” Martini [SEE RECIPE BELOW]. You’ll notice that not a trace of dry vermouth is present. Why? Well, we’re certain the people at Chopin know full well that dry vermouth and vodka do not make a good match, and, after all, they want you to enjoy the vodka, not a vodka that tastes of dry vermouth. We couldn’t agree more.

Next up was the rye vodka. After sipping it, we immediately looked at each other in disbelief. How could this vodka taste so different from the potato one? Its flavor spicier and less sweet and smooth. Intrigued, we looked to see what Chopin suggested making with it. The Chopin Splash [SEE RECIPE BELOW] is simple enough to make year-round, and Chopin suggests pairing rye vodka cocktails with a red-sauce pasta dish. Give it a whirl and see what you think.

Following that, we tried the wheat vodka, which turned out to be the most different vodka we had ever tasted. Its taste and consistency were like water-thinned honey, so we decided that this would be the perfect vodka for those who are uninitiated in the world of mixology and spirits, and would like to dabble without the fear of alcohol-burn. Chopin suggests pairing this expression of vodka with roasted chicken. Try it with the Chopin Bohemian Luxury [SEE RECIPE BELOW].

Of course, no holiday season is complete without a spirited cocktail, so the fine folks at Chopin have created a Christmas Cosmopolitan using the potato vodka, a cocktail that is sure to make you happy, before, during, or after a few hour of caroling, or perhaps shopping for the perfect cocktail shaker set for your office Secret Santa. And despite its moniker, we’re certain you can imbibe a few during Thanksgivukkah this Thursday. L’chaim.

Christmas Cosmopolitan
(created by Chopin Vodka)

1 1/2 ounces Chopin Potato Vodka
3/4 ounce mulled cranberry juice *
1/2 ounce lemon juice
dash of Grand Marnier
a 3-clove–studded orange twist

Shake all ingredients with cubed ice

* Heat cranberry juice with 2 crushed cloves; add nutmeg, cinnamon, and almonds to taste. Allow to cool and infuse. Sieve the juice and use accordingly.

Chopin Bohemian Luxury
(created by Chopin Vodka)

1 1/2 ounces Chopin Wheat Vodka
1 ounce pineapple juice
1/2 Chambord (raspberry liqueur)
5 large ice cubes
1 ounce Moët & Chandon Nectar Impérial Rosé
orchid, as garnish

Shake first three ingredients in ice. Strain into a chilled Champagne flute. Top with Moët & Chandon Nectar Impérial Rosé. Garnish with orchid.

Chopin Splash
(created by Chopin Vodka)

2 ounces Chopin Rye Vodka
1/2 ounce Aperol
1 ounce fresh pink grapefruit juice
3 ounces club soda

Build in a tall glass with ice. Garnish with 1/4 slice pink grapefruit.

Chopin Extra Olives “CEO” Martini
(created by Chopin Vodka)

2 1/2 ounces Chopin Potato Vodka
3 extra large or blue cheese-stuffed olives

Shake with ice and strain into a chilled martini glass. Add garnish

Optional: Add olive brine to taste to make a Dirty CEO [even though the world is filled with enough of them].

top photo © Steve Schul, Cocktail Buzz