As the whiskey mania ebbs, good old vodka is back, baby—and with an upscale twist.
Clear comeback: Master mixologist Tony Abou-Ganim’s recipe for the perfect martini? Vodka stirred with ice, unadulterated by vermouth, and strained into a chilled cocktail glass. Take that, James Bond!
These days, vodka is increasingly what’s in cocktail-hour glasses. For a while, a revived interest in whiskey and other brown spirits nudged the clear elixir out of the spotlight, but now a growing number of unusual and luxe vodkas are fueling a renewed surge. “Vodka’s heritage and flavor nuances deserve a measure of reverence,” says Tony Abou-Ganim, the award-winning mixologist and author of Vodka Distilled. As smooth and versatile as ever, the newest crop of vodkas also comes with a twist—stories to tell.
For example, Hangar 1’s limited edition Fog Point Vodka (USA; $125 for 750ml) is a grape-based vodka, distilled from wine (specifically, Bonny Doon’s 2012 Le Cigar Blanc), and then cut with water collected from San Francisco’s world-famous fog—a love letter to the distiller’s NorCal home. Across the Pacific, Soyombo Super Premium Mongolian Vodka (Mongolia; $30) is a bottled history lesson: The wheat-based spirit is distilled on the site of the last Mongolian emperor’s palace and filtered through such precious materials as quartz, silver, and diamonds. Finally, Double Cross Vodka (Slovakia; $37) comes packaged in a sleek, sculptural bottle made from high-end French crystal and laser-cut with select lines of Slovakian poetry.
Regardless of which you choose, drink it with respect: “Take your time,” counsels Abou-Ganim. “Vodka should be sipped and savored rather than shot back in a flash.” Cheers to that!