Allspice Chronicles

Entertain like a Queen, Think Lean and Live Green! A personal collection of recipes,anecdotes,and good old fashioned advice…

A Guide to the World of Vodka

by Danica Waters

There’s something about summertime that makes the world of the fun and fruity cocktail that much more, well, fun.  And because Vodka is considered the best mixing liquor of all the base spirits, I figure it’s the best place to begin our exploration of “cocktail culture”, and to develop our “Guide to the World of Vodka”.

Primarily made from grain, such as wheat or rye, vodka is also frequently made from potatoes or beets.  The ingredients undergo a three-stage process which involves fermentation, distillation, and filtration in various degrees to achieve different levels of quality in the final product.  During fermentation,  yeast is used to break down sugar molecules into carbon dioxide gas and ethyl alcohol.    Then the resulting liquid is distilled at least three times via a process of condensation and evaporation.   Finally, it is filtered over charcoal to remove impurities.

While any recipe will provide better results with the use of premium ingredients, when mixing stronger flavors such as grapefruit with vodka, even a lower-cost vodka can provide yummy results.  But when it comes to enjoying a really good vodka, the basic rule of thumb is how it feels on the tongue.  If the vodka burns and “bites back”on the tongue and in the back of the throat, it is generally considered to be of  lesser-quality, while better brands will deliver a much more smooth finish.  And there’s nothing better on a hot summer evening than a good, smooth Vodka on the rocks, simply poured over crushed summer fruit and/or herbs.  (Try vodka poured over small slices of fresh lemon, lime, orange, and strawberry, with a crushed sprig of mint thrown in.  Yum!)

Colleen Graham at about.com put together a list of some of the best world vodkas at various price points;  it’s a handy reference piece for not only your own personal bar, but for gift-giving as well.  Here’s the list:

“Let’s Get Cheap – Vodkas Around $10

Favorite Brands for a Good Price – Vodkas Around $20

This is Where it Starts Getting Really Good – Vodkas Around $30

A Touch of Luxury – Vodkas Over $40

Another great reference piece is her list of Boutique Vodkas, along with her list of the Top 10 Most Popular Brands of Premium Vodka – check them out.

Next time we’ll start exploring the fantastic world of infused vodkas!  Got a flavor combination you think will rock the planet?  Send in your ideas – we’d love to share them!

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Posted in alcoholic beverages and Allspice Chronicles and Beverages and Colleen Graham and Vodka by danica on June 10th, 2011 at 11:17 am.

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