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VA VE VO

Vodka

Vodka's a perfectly acceptable digestif, and an excellent accompaniment to meals of caviar, smoked salmon, and black bread. The best vodka we ever drank was at a little Polish deli in Paris where the proprietor served small glasses of ice cold alcohol with a faintly sweet flavor and a faintly green color. The greenish liquid turned out to be vodka flavored with buffalo grass, and you can sometimes find a bottle in the freezer of Russian or Polish restaurants. As usual, it helps to tip heavily before you ask. When it comes to cocktails, though, vodka is an anathema. In the early sixties a trend toward extremely stiff drinks was exaggerated by an intense promotional campaign by Smirnoff, and before long the whole country was drinking screwdrivers and other highly intoxicating and relatively pointless vodka concoctions. The problem with vodka is that it has little flavor. It is the hard liquor of choice for teenagers and other serious lushes. You can have a couple of typical vodka drinks before dinner and still enjoy your meal, and the overwhelming neutrality of vodka discourages bartenders from perfecting their skills. To us, the flavors of competing brands of vodka is like The Emperor's New Clothes, all sorts of excitement about nothing. If you want to irritate our friend Paul, go into a bar where he's working and order a very dry vodka martini and then send it back asking for it to be "more dry." Many commentators have traced the fall of the cocktail to the advent of vodka. Perhaps there are also other reasons, but unless it is served straight and ice-cold, or offered after a hard night out and mixed with tomato juice (in which case it is not only a cocktail but breakfast also), we prefer to keep this liquor at arm's length.
Last modified: 5 April 2009
Editors: Nik D
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