Tag Archives: flavored vodka

Vodka 360

vodka 360

In the last few weeks, we’ve had the opportunity to try out Vodka 360 and their line of flavors at Simple Cocktails, including this episode of the podcast and this cocktail. Billing their vodka as “Eco Friendly” because of the brand’s commitment to recycling and other green behaviors at McCormick Distilling (the distiller of V360), the brand also offers recycling initiatives tied the the bottle’s glass and swing-top cap.

Vodka 360 is available in a plethora of flavors (11 to date) which range from the traditional to the obscure…glazed donut or buttered popcorn, anyone? Mostly, though, their flavors are of the fruit or dessert variety. We tried the original (unflavored) vodka, plus Huckleberry, Sorrento Lemon and Double Chocolate flavors.

The standard Vodka 360 is a good buy for $20, though if your brand loyalty is elsewhere in that price range, there’s nothing particularly new in the flavor of 360. The environmental initiatives, or even the cool swing-top cap, might be what call some to switch.

The biggest thing we noticed about the flavored Vodka 360s is that the flavors are very intense, bold and obvious. I feel like there are two options for a vodka with this much flavor. First, if you intend to use this in place of a flavored vodka in a traditional recipe (like for citrus vodka in a Cosmo), the Lemon V360 alone will overwhelm the drink, so you should mix it 50/50 with standard, non-flavored vodka.

Another option, though, is to use these flavored vodkas them as replacements for liqueurs in cocktail recipes. They’ll be higher-alcohol, but the flavor intensity is about at liqueur level. Like many other flavored vodkas, V360 sweetens their flavored varieties, so it’s going to be fun to swap out Double Chocolate V360 for Creme de Cacao in a recipe, for instance.

There is no limit to the stunts that a vodka company may pull to get their piece of the large market share that vodka holds in the liquor world, but to take a less selfish position, in this case, and environmental one, is notable.

Let me know in the comments what you think of V360!

Grey Goose Vodka

grey goose and grey goose le melon

Grey Goose fights a tough fight on a regular basis. For something legally defined as tasteless and odorless, there is a wide variety that you find in vodkas. Most people can tell the difference between a “cheap” gas-station vodka and a “premium” vodka, and the manufacturers of both work hard to make their clear substance stand out from the competition.

At $35-40 a bottle, Grey Goose is arguably the most recognizable premium vodka brand. It’s certainly got a great flavor, and with Lisa being my best vodka taster (since she has a better palate for it), Grey Goose is one of her favorites. There’s a natural, subtle sweetness in Grey Goose that comes from the French wheat that’s used in it’s distillate, like a touch of vanilla and almond. You’ll also find it still retains some of the familiar “burn” that you’ve experienced with other vodkas, too.

Le Melon is the newest of the Grey Goose flavors, made from French Cavaillon melons. By the flavor, a cavaillon is a close relative to the cantaloupe, though we found the flavor to be something like a cantaloupe and watermelon mix. Grey Goose’s flavors is something that the company does best – sticking with traditional vodka flavors like citrus and vanilla, and as far as I can tell, taking care not to sweeten these flavors (they remain at 40% abv). They’re quality enough and are perfectly pleasant to sip neat or on the rocks.

Vodka is a polarizing substance in the world of craft cocktails. Heck, Death & Co. released a cocktail book without a single vodka cocktail in it. Regardless of that, there is certainly a place for premium vodkas in the market, and Grey Goose continues to solidify their role with quality products at a reasonable – though premium – price.

We also tasted Grey Goose and Le Melon on the Simple Cocktails Podcast. Click here to listen.

Iceberg Vodka

iceberg vodka

We recently tried Iceberg Vodka on the podcast, and we were really impressed with what we tasted, especially in the flavored versions. Before I was contacted by Iceberg, I’d never heard of this brand before. It’s an affordable vodka ($20 range) with some interesting (though not childish) flavor options.

As with many vodkas, it’s story is a large portion of sales, and Iceberg is no different. It’s a corn-based Canadian vodka which uses water from an iceberg as it’s base liquid (50-60% of vodka is water). Iceberg’s site goes into detail about the iceberg “harvesting process,” plus the rationale behind the purity of an iceberg, it’s been frozen 12,000 years, etc. Ultimately, of course, the flavor of the vodka is more critical to it’s long life than it’s backstory, and Iceberg delivers.

Distilled from sweet Canadian corn, Iceberg is a creamy and sweet vodka (thanks, corn!) with an average amount of vodka burn, and is certainly a vodka you should consider in the $20 price range.

Iceberg Ice Fusion Cucumber has lots of cucumber flavor, is not sweetened at all, and is a refreshing and tasty vodka flavor (I’ve tasted a cucumber vodka here before). Lisa recommended mixing this vodka with mint. I’m curious about how it’ll taste in a Bloody Mary.

Iceberg Ice Fusion Creme Brulee isn’t syrupy, though it is sweetened just a touch. This would be great with a hot drink, from coffee to tea to a hot toddy. It’s easier to drink because of the sugar and it has a nice, natural vanilla/caramel flavor. This was Lisa’s favorite of the bunch.

Iceberg Ice Fusion Chocolate Mint is a wonderfully creative vodka flavor, and in this case, it’s not overly sweet. I preferred this flavor to the Creme Brulee because of the toned down sweetness and more subtle flavors – I’m curious to try it out in a White Russian or Alexander cocktail.

We tasted Iceberg on the Simple Cocktails Podcast, too. Click here to listen.


Cathead Fall Vodkas

cathead pumpkin spice and pecan vodkas

Cathead Vodka out of Mississippi has released 2 seasonal flavored vodkas to go along with their year-round vodka and honeysuckle vodka. While flavored vodkas often border on insanity, Cathead Pumpkin Spice and Cathead Pecan are a bit more calm and noble.

Cathead on it’s own is a very good vodka, so these flavors have a quality backbone to build on. Of these two, pecan is more subtle and natural-tasting – the pumpkin spice variety makes a great cocktail, but on its own, the flavor is a little overwhelming and maybe a little imitation.

Here are two great cocktails to use your Cathead seasonals in:

Fall On Me (by Greg Mays)

  • 1 1/2 oz Cathead Pumpkin Spice
  • 1 1/2 oz Art in the Age Snap
  • 1 oz cream
  • shake on ice and pour into a chilled cocktail glass
  • garnish with nutmeg

Summer’s Gone Soda (by Greg Mays)

  • 2 oz Cathead Pecan
  • 1 oz caramel liqueur (like Lovoka or Godiva)
  • serve on the rocks and top with club soda
  • garnish with a cherry

Ignore the Experts

serving a drink

Sometimes you just have to ignore the experts.

Part of a booze writer’s job as an “expert” is to teach you things about liquor and drinking. I’ve written posts about how to serve absinthe, how to make an Old Fashioned, or how to make a Martini at this very blog. Here’s a sampling of what you will hear us say from time to time:

  • Never put ice in scotch.
  • A Martini is made with gin. If you make the drink with vodka, it’s called a Kangaroo. And don’t shake a martini either.
  • Never muddle fruit in an Old Fashioned.
  • Make sure you buy tequila that’s distilled from 100% Weber Blue Agave.
  • Flavored vodkas are the scum of the earth and we’d all be better off if we could purge them.

I’m writing this post to tell you that just because we might have more booze wisdom than your everyday drinker, we do not have the right to tell you that if you’re not doing our way, you’re wrong. Just so you know, I’ve broken lots of drinking taboos in my life. I drank brandy on the rocks once. I used to regularly drink Vodka Martinis, shaken, not stirred. I make my Old Fashioneds with a splash of club soda. I even tried Fruit Loop vodka once (who wouldn’t?), though I rewrote my post on it several times because I was worried about my rep with the Cocktail Elite.

So if you have a favorite drinking practice or recipe that us “experts” disparage, ignore us and do it your way! Do you like ice in your scotch? Awesome. You think Jagermeister and Red Bull is a “cocktail?” Enjoy. How about a glass of Brown Wine (Jim Beam and Coke)? Go for it.

My girl Mrs. Simple Cocktails has a favorite “martini” recipe that calls for 2 oz vodka, 3/4 oz of olive brine (you read that right), and a splash of vermouth with 4 huge olives as a garnish. I make them for her all the time and I don’t preach at her about how she’s really drinking some sort of a Bastardized Kangaroo, not a martini, because she likes the damn things and she can call them what she likes.

So from one member of the Cocktail Elite, you should drink what you like, how you like to drink it. We may have strong opinions on booze and drinking practices, but that’s because we drink a lot of it and we’re probably cocktail history freaks, too. We may think you’re nuts for using sour mix instead of squeezing real citrus. We might think that a shaken martini is sacrilegious, but who cares? There are a plethora of bottles on the store shelves and there’s something in them for every type of drinker, even one who likes Donut Vodka (how dare you?).

Here’s my girl’s recipe again for those who dare try it:

Mrs. Simple Cocktails I-Can-Call-It-What-I-Want Martini

  • 2 oz vodka
  • 3/4 oz olive brine
  • splash of dry vermouth
  • shake on ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass
  • garnish with 4 olives on a pick