It’s no big secret that I’m a lifelong lover of all brown liquor – bourbon, whiskey, brandy – I love them all. But when the weather turns a bit warmer I enjoy lightening things up with the clear cousins of the browns – gin, aquavit, and vodka. Vodka is a funny spirit to me. I find it rather lacking in taste. It’s as if water is turned into alcohol, and poof! You’ve got an 80 proof solution to relax the thigh muscles. While I would argue that most vodka profiles are very similar, I must say that today’s spirit of choice might have changed my opinion of vodka forever.
Purity Vodka is made by Master Blender of the Year, Thomas Kuuttanen. This nectar is sourced from organic wheat and winter barley in the south of Sweden and is distilled an unprecedented 34 times, using only the finest 10% of the total production to make the product. For apéritif geeks out there like me, you know that’s a painstaking focus on quality and perfection. If you’re not exactly up on distillation techniques, then maybe this will sell you: Purity Vodka is the first ever to receive a perfect 100 point rating and has won the coveted Vodka of the Year title six years in a row, from 2011-2016.
Still not convinced? Then take Mr. Musky’s word for it. He’s a Sapphire Gin snob, and upon his first taste of Purity Vodka his eyes lit up and rolled to the heavens – a surefire sign he just tasted something extraordinary.
“Wow!” he exclaimed. “That is smooth. Dangerously smooth.”
I agreed. So did my sister- and brother-in-law, my kids, my mother-in-law, the kettlebell girls, and my dinner companions last night. In three weeks’ time, I encouraged multiple friends to try this vodka and they’re all astounded.
Despite its crisp, clear profile, I struggled to make a cocktail with Purity. Mr. Musky and I both concurred that it would make a kickass martini – no frills, maybe a spritz of dry vermouth, and a giant olive on the side for me, thank you very much. But I feel the beauty of vodka as a spirit enhances a complementary flavor. That’s why anytime I think “fruit” in a cocktail, I dig out the ball jars and start infusing. Or I’ll make a shrub or simple syrup. My initial inclination with Purity involved a blueberry / cherry / mint simple syrup, as I’d been dying to use some frozen cherries from Mama K’s backyard that she brought to me in March. While the syrup was delicious, it overwhelmed the delicate, almost silky taste of the vodka. On Easter Sunday my mother-in-law gave the combination a whirl, but determined it not the right mix. I agreed.
Turns out all of us “no frills” drinkers that day had the better option in our hands. It’s tempting to drink as is, without alteration to the award winning taste.
But after contemplating the light, polished spirit for another week, I gave it a second try the following weekend. Cara Cara and Blood Oranges are still available at our local markets, but the season is most certainly nearing its end for the year. I snagged up a bag of each and returned home determined to figure out the right complement for the vodka. Turns out Cara Cara orange juice is a perfect match. I find the juice of Cara Cara’s unmistakably orange, but lighter in flavor, with an almost floral note. They’re less acidic than standard oranges, making them an ideal match for mixing into a martini.
Wanting to enhance the orange flavor, I swirled a dash of Cointreau in the martini glass first, then poured the tiny remnants into the martini shaker. I added four ounces of vodka to one ounce of freshly squeezed Cara Cara juice, and made sure to reserve a long section of oily peel for the garnish.
With a shake, strain and pour, I knew I had it with the first taste. But to be sure, I handed it to the Sapphire Snob for his concurrence. He didn’t give it back, so I made another for myself.
Last weekend I served these along with my Lemon Maple Fizzer and Maple Old Fashioned to four of my kettlebell girls. Two of them chose the Pure Cara Martini as their cocktail of choice for the evening
And last night, a customer of mine from my days at AT&T invited us to a pre Cinco de Mayo celebration. Six of us tried the martini before dinner. These people are drinkers. They like their cocktails strong and unadulterated. I’m telling you, they argued with me about the 4:1 ratio of liquor to mixer in that drink. They would not believe that the martini held that much alcohol because it’s that velvety, polished, and smooth. The host texted me this morning, telling me he’s going out this weekend to buy a bottle, which is available locally at Binny’s Beverage Depot.
At a price point competitive with vodkas that might immediately come to mind when one thinks “top shelf,” I highly recommend Purity Vodka for every home bar. Pull this out when your vodka snob friends come over and ask for a cocktail. But beware – they’ll be so astounded at the complete lack of sting in this smooth spirit you might need to prepare your guest bedroom for an impromptu sleepover!
Happy Cinco de Mayo. Happy Kentucky Derby Weekend. Most importantly though, Happy Apéritif Friday!
- One dash (about ¼-1/2 bar spoon) of Cointreau
- One ounce freshly squeezed Cara Cara orange juice
- Four ounces Purity Vodka
- Orange peel, as a garnish
- Pour the dash of Cointreau into a martini glass and swirl to coat.
- Pour the remnants of the Cointreau into a cocktail shaker.
- Add the orange juice, vodka, and ice. Shake vigorously for 30 seconds.
- Pour the cocktail through a fine meshed strainer into the prepared martini glass.
- Garnish with an orange peel. Enjoy!