Summer comes, and people are going for drinking more refreshing cocktails. Even die-hard Martini lover like me starts to think about Tom Collins when buying another bottle of gin.

For a long time I was neglecting long drinks. Usually I would prefer to shake orange juice with gin and serve it straight instead of building orange juice with vodka over ice in a highball. Sometimes I was trying to avoid ice-cold drinks and not to catch cold, sometimes I just wanted straight and strong drink in the end of another hard day.

This time I have an intention to break my prejudice. The first long drink in the series will be Screwdriver, a mixture of vodka and orange juice.

I have no idea how matters stand in America but in Russia Screwdriver has a bad reputation thanks to ignorant bartenders who mix cheap vodka with surrogate juice.

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Thyme Cocktail

It’s summer now, and everything around are in blossom. I have my wish for consuming fresh vegetables strengthened so for me greengrocery has became very popular place for shopping at least until next month when we expect to gather first vegetables at our countryside house’s garden.

Recently I’ve enjoyed black tea with thyme and lemongrass. It was quite tasty, and once I think about using thyme in cocktails. I wasn’t pondering long over future cocktail’s formula: neutral alcohol to underscore thyme aroma, syrup as sweetener and lemon juice to add more sharpness.

After a week of unhurried experiments I’ve got eventually my new cocktail with simple formula and simple name – Thyme Cocktail.

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Discovering vodka. Part II

My second Russian vodka review is also about the premium vodka (or just something like it) retailing at Moscow supermarkets.

In the first review I explained my reasons and tasting conditions. All they are personal and maybe controversial especially Vodka Martini cocktail as one of the criteria.

I hope it would be useful for foreign imbibers because I know that many of reviewed vodkas are exported to Europe and US.

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Discovering vodka. Part I

This article is mostly about Russian vodka so I think it will be not too interesting for foreigners who usually deal with vodkas of European or American brands.

Also I see some misunderstanding and underestimating from people across Europe concerning vodka. That’s not a problem because Russian vodka is a local spirit which should be consumed in proper conditions and accordingly to national traditions.

Traditionally, Russian hand-crafted vodkas were based on distilled rye spirit. Now wheat is cheaper as well as a rectification process substituted for distillation so the base for modern vodkas is rectified wheat spirit. Rye, potato, barley, grape are all an exception to the rule.

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Baltic Martini

Vodka-based Martinis now become an everybody’s fad. A lot of recipes, variety of vodkas – flavoured or not, juices, liqueurs, bitters… Crazy times, crazy drinks.

I have to admit that recently I’ve gave up and started to invent my own Martinis too.

Here is one of that recipes. I’ve called it «Baltic Martini» because of Riga black balsam and Finlandia Vodka used there. The third ingredient is homemade black currant infusion traditionally made in Central and Northern Russia.

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Red Apple

My recent posts were about whisky, bourbon and gin. As is known, all these ones aren’t native to Russia. So now I’m about to revert to ingredients which are widespread and favorite in Russia. I’m talking about vodka and apple juice.

Not long ago I’ve been given three bottles of homemade apple juice. It was pressed, then sterilized and bottled immediately without adding sugar. It was in autumn, and now after six months in dark cellar the juice became clear.

Tasted, it has no differences with freshly pressed apple juice and seems slightly more concentrated.

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The Dreamy Dorini Smokin’ Martini

As you know, Martini Cocktail is very popular one and has lots and lots of varieties which often have nothing in common with classic Martini.

As a conservative person, I love traditional approach and always make old good Dry Martini including Vodka Martini, one of my favourite nightcaps.

Smoky Martini is the creation of dazzling «Libation Goddes» Audrey Saunders. The recipe looks very nice, audacious and austere at the same time. It was luring me, and once I’ve gave in to it.

When reading «Thinking Bartender Barbook» by George Sinclair, I’ve saw there this recipe with gorgeous title «The Dreamy Dorini Smokin’ Martini» and decided to make t immediately.

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The Detox

It upset me to learn of vodka underestimated by cocktail enthusiasts. Not because I’m Russian (well, it just helps me to know more about vodka). I saw many vodka lovers and vodka haters, and I’m sure none of them knows exactly what vodka is.

I feel vodka is a tradition in Russia just like whisky in Scotland, beer in Czech or Germany, green tea in China.

Yes, good vodka should have neutral flavour, and that’s why many people prefer not to use it in cocktails. But do you know how frequently shortcomings turn to advantages? Often, very often.

So all this story is about my intention to promote vodka as superb cocktail ingredient. And first my attempt is the cocktail called The Detox. This beautiful drink has been presented by Paystyle at Umamimart (he-he, this is another valuable result of my lurking)

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Green Tea Gimlets

I missed Mixology Monday XLV dedicated to drinks with tea. But I’m not sorry. I have read all posts and now I can say that was great for me as a puppy in mixology.

The most interesting for me was the Green tea gimlet on Drink Of The Week, mainly because of green tea syrup used there.

I’m very interesting in old-school drinks with gin and vodka, and gimlet itself promised a wonderful experience. Besides that I like green tea too so green tea gimlet was perfect recipe for me.

First of all, I’ve made green tea syrup. The difference between my syrup and original one from Drink Of The Week recipe is in green tea only. Tea-bag has been used in the original recipe but I prefer natural Chinese green tea without any flavourings so I think that oolong with its strong and rich flavour is the better choice.

So my homemade green tea syrup is ready, and I prepared to make green tea gimlet using Drink Of The Week recipe.

1 1/2 oz. vodka
3/4 oz. fresh lemon juice
1 oz. green tea syrup

Pour ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake vigorously for 20 seconds. Strain into cocktail glass and garnish with lemon wheel.

This cocktail was pretty good, sweet and refreshing. But I felt that I hadn’t have enough tea distinctive features in its flavour as well as common brightness and energy.

Then I decided to decrease the amount of lemon juice (a little bit), to increase the amount of vodka (a little bit too) and to use stronger vodka – Danzka 50% ABV.

My Green tea vodka gimlet

  • 50 ml 50% ABV vodka,
  • 20 ml fresh lemon juice,
  • 30 ml homemade green tea syrup

shaken with ice, strained and served in the rock glass filled with ice.

Green tea gimlets, with vodka and lemon

The main achievement was in the rich green tea aftertaste appeared in this drink. Lemon moved to background to balance syrup’s sweetness well. In addition, lemon helped to combine properly sweet and sour flavour with vodka’s power and depth.

Also lemon zest set off tea’s tart and dry aftertastes and removed bitterness at the same time. In whole, my green tea vodka gimlet has more freshness and power but preserves incredibly soft and comfortable taste inherited from the original drink.

The next cocktail I planned to make was green tea gimlet – a natural gimlet with gin and lime juice sweetened with green tea syrup.

My Green tea gimlet

  • 50 ml gin,
  • 20 ml fresh lime juice,
  • 30 ml homemade green tea syrup

shaken with ice, strained and served in the rock glass filled with ice.

Green tea gimlets, with gin and lime

At first for this drink I took harsh, straight and rough Gordon’s gin. I always use this gin in my long drinks where it successfully competes with tonic or lemon juice. But here in my green tea gimlet Gordon’s gin was very poor because it brought strange soapy aftertaste.

Then I tried mild and light Seagram’s gin, and this one worked very well. With Seagram’s gin my gimlet became soft but not weak. Lime and gin added necessary sourness, and in aftertaste outstanding oolong had been backed with gin botanical flavour.

Made with gin, this green tea gimlet became a bit piquant and sharp and preserved the charming notes of fresh Chinese green tea.