World's Smoothest Vodka? I Had to Find Out for Myself . . .
First, a fair amount of effort was put into selecting recipes with relatively simple ingredient lists. While elaborate cocktails and sauces are great, I like to keep things simple when reviewing spirits. It's the fairest way I know of to focus on the product's flavor. Second, in my ongoing quest to be as objective as possible . . . I snagged the hubster into the process for a second opinion on all recipes concocted. While he certainly never has to have his arm twisted when it comes to drinks and pasta sauces, we do have very different sets of tastebuds, and this helps a great deal when it comes to objectivity. Third, diversity of recipe type was also considered. By that I mean that after taste testing the product in a more acidic tomato beverage like a Bloody Mary, we also included something a little creamier, like a White Russian, and something with clear ingredients like a Kamikaze. And, while it's certainly a total blast to sit around sipping sampler cocktails all afternoon, I felt including an actual meal item would round out the review to the best of my ability.
Now that the particulars are out of the way, here are the recipes we used, and the verdicts for each.
First, the Christi Naked. This is basically Christiania vodka over ice. I have to admit, there aren’t many spirits I enjoy drinking straight, and vodka is a particularly strong one. But in the interest of doing a thorough review, we both gave it a shot (pun intended). Hey, it’s a tough job, but someone has to do it. The verdict? Strong, but clean and without an aftertaste.
Second, a Black Russian. Another strong drink I mixed with one part vodka to one part liquor de café. This particular drink was selected not only for the simple ingredient list, but because we wanted to see how Christiania held its own with another strong flavored spirit. Analysis? No clashing of the flavors and a fair amount of kick.
Third, one of my favorite drinks, a White Russian. For those of you unfamiliar with it, it’s basically a lighter creamier version of the Black Russian listed above. The recipe used? One part Christiania, one part liquor de café and one part fat free half & half. Opinion? Absolutely luscious. This was the second actual mixed drink tried with the Christiania. As far as we’re noticing, this stuff is exceptionally clean tasting and provides a direct enhancement to whatever you mix it with.
Next? A traditional Bloody Mary. The recipe we used was one and a half parts of the vodka to 3 parts tomato juice. To that, we added a dash of lemon juice, a half teaspoon of Worcestershire, freshly cracked peppercorns to taste and a few shakes of Tabasco. The result? A decently smooth cocktail. I usually go a little heavier on the flavor additives in my Bloody Mary drinks, because of the strong aftertaste with the vodkas I’m used to using. I purposely went light on them here, because the point was to give a fair and thorough taste analysis. In fact, I normally like to mix these with a low sodium or spicy V-8 (which I highly recommend). But here, we went with the regular tomato to increase the fairness factor. In my humble opinion, this stuff held up.
The final cocktail? A Kamikaze. This is a simple cocktail with a citrus flavor. I mixed it with one part Christiania, one part Triple Sec and one part lime juice. Personal opinion? A pretty fabulous beverage with a crisp flavor. Not bitter and no real aftertaste. Nice. Very nice.
But wait, I promised a menu item. One thing about living remotely and only going into civilization on occasion is that when there’s a new trend, it’s pretty easy to spot. On a recent trip to the nearest bulk shopping appropriate city, my husband and I noticed a fair number of vodka sauces in the pasta aisles. So I did a little research on the net. Most of the ones I found (but not all) involved cream, and most of those also included a tomato base to the sauce, although there was one creamy Alfredo type of recipe that looked interesting. The only thing holding me back with jumping forward with the ones I found was that most of them included some pretty overwhelming flavors for my purposes. Don’t get me wrong, they looked fabulous. But remember, for review purposes I wanted to keep things simple. So here’s a simple cheap one I invented in the interest of fairness:
Vodka Sauce: 2 (29 ounce) cans of tomato puree, 1 (6 ounce) can of tomato paste, 1 cup of fat free half and half, 1 cup of Christiania vodka, 2-3 pounds of browned ground beef, 2-4 generous pinches of brown sugar, 2 tablespoons of minced garlic, a splash or two of olive oil and Italian seasoning to taste. Let this simmer in the crock pot until the flavors have a chance to blend and mellow. This can take anywhere from 4-8 hours depending on whether you use the high or low setting on your slow cooker. Vodka sauce verdict? We would both definitely make this again. The vodka adds a certain something and you can certainly tell it’s in there. I was wondering if the entire flavor would cook down. It didn’t. But one other thing my husband and I both noticed about adding the Christiania to the sauce was that we while we were still able to enjoy the richness of the ingredients included, the crispness of the spirit lightened the whole thing up, making it decadent but not heavy.
Our overall product opinion of Christiania? A darned decent vodka and worth the splurge, particularly if you are wanting the crispness of certain cocktails without the aftertaste. Further, in an age where corporate integrity and product quality are getting harder and harder to find, this company appears to have put its money where its mouth is. Not only is it made with organic potatoes, it's distilled six times. Not bad. They also apparently have a strong affinity for the arts and have taken steps to support culturally related projects, including a recent art competition .
Call for drink recipes: As always, I'm on the prowl for really great drink recipes . . . if you have any including vodka, post away so the rest of us can enjoy them. Oh, and if you're interested in trying out this particular brand for yourself, here's a link to where you can get some. Enjoy the rest of the week, everybody!