Towards the top of Ian Fleming’s spy novel “Dr. No,” James Bond orders a vodka dry martini – “Shaken and not stirred please.”
The novel was printed in 1958, on the peak of the Cold War. But 4 a long time earlier than the Berlin Wall would crumble, vodka had already bridged the East-West divide.
Between 1950 and 1975, vodka went from being a statistical blip to America’s greatest promoting spirit. In addition to the martini, it’s grow to be the bottom spirit in in style cocktails just like the Cosmopolitan, the Moscow Mule and the Vodka Red Bull.
With National Vodka Day going down on Oct. 4, listed here are the solutions to some questions I generally hear in my lessons on meals and beverage administration.
1. What’s vodka constituted of?
You would possibly suppose that every one vodka is distilled from potatoes, however solely a handful of at present’s manufacturers use the foundation vegetable.
Russia and Poland every declare to the be the birthplace of vodka, which is a Slavonic diminutive time period that means “little water.” There are mentions of vodka in Polish data as early as 1500, however the drink was in all probability round for a minimum of 300 years prior – perhaps even longer.
Potatoes, nonetheless, weren’t introduced from South America to Europe till the 1570s. And earlier than 1700, it’s unlikely that they have been grown in portions giant sufficient in Poland or Russia to maintain any type of industrial enterprise.
Instead, vodka was initially a grain distillate, with rye as the first constituent. This is sensible: Rye grows higher than different grains within the cool, damp climates of northern Eurasia.
While some vodka is constituted of potatoes, most vodkas are constituted of no matter grain the distiller prefers to make use of, with sorghum, rye, wheat and corn main the pack. Grapes, plums and sugar cane are even utilized by some manufacturers.
2. Why is a few vodka so costly?
A bottle of Crystal Head vodka retails for round US$50, whereas a bottle of Romanoff goes for roughly $10.
But the most cost effective vodka ought to style similar to the costliest one – a minimum of in principle. According to the U.S. Federal Standard of Identity, to ensure that a spirit to be marketed as “vodka,” “it must be odorless, colorless and tasteless.”
Every vodka does have its personal mashbill, which is the phrase for its personal recipe. What’s within the mashbill can create minor variations within the taste of completed vodka.
Whether a grain or fruit is used to make the vodka, every has numerous flavoring substances often called “congeners” that give the ultimate product its distinctive style.
The main taste, nonetheless, is ethanol, which has a style that evokes the scent of rubbing alcohol. Many could be hard-pressed to inform the distinction between completely different manufacturers of vodka in a blindfold take a look at.
In truth, a style take a look at carried out for The New York Times by journalist Eric Asimov and a gaggle of vodka specialists concluded that America’s outdated favourite, Smirnoff vodka, retailing at below $15 a bottle, beat out all the flamboyant high-priced manufacturers for taste and worth.
There are two actual causes that some vodkas value a lot greater than others. First, some manufacturers spend a small fortune on advertising and superstar endorsements – suppose Ciroc and its $100 million endorsement cope with Sean “Diddy” Combs.
Other manufacturers, like Grey Goose or Hangar One, merely promote their vodka at a excessive worth level to make their model appear luxurious and unique.
3. Is there actually vodka in that dish of pasta?
Most American Italian eating places function “penne alla vodka” on the menu. There is, in reality, precise vodka within the sauce: Most recipes use round 1 / 4 of a cup, although Food Network star Ree Drummond makes use of an entire cup in her model.
While vodka was in all probability first added to a creamy pasta sauce for promotional or novelty functions, some cooks declare that the vodka helps stabilize the cream and tomato combination and that the alcohol helps extract flavors from the tomatoes and herbs.
Vodka can be utilized in different programs as nicely. A vodka-watermelon sorbet is a superb intermezzo, or palate cleanser, whereas the authoritative Cook’s Illustrated recommends utilizing some vodka when making pie crust, because it provides moisture with out activating as a lot gluten, maintaining the pie crust tender and flaky.
Whatever the logic, a dish with a touch of vodka – accompanied by a vodka dry martini, in fact – is perhaps the easiest way to rejoice National Vodka Day.
As they are saying in Russia when toasting with vodka, “vashe zdorovie” – “to your health!”
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