Bartenders and cocktail geeks like to beat up on vodka, and I’m certainly guilty of having done some of that myself. I was reminded of that this morning while reading Jonathan Miles’ “Shaken & Stirred” column in the New York Times and — surprise! — seeing my name come up, along with a quotelet in which I describe vodka as the “tofu of the bar.”
Erik Felten’s piece in the Wall Street Journal from a couple of weeks back had many starting to drive nails into vodka’s coffin, but Miles reminds us that the vodka party isn’t quite over. In defense of vodka drinks, Miles cites cocktails such as the Atomic, in which vodka plays a support role, rather than trying to dominate the drink (in terms of proportion of ingredients, anyway; vodka can’t exactly take over the flavor of a drink unless the other ingredients are primarily air and water).
While I’m guilty of the occasional vodka-bashing, I can stand behind Wondrich’s quote at the end of the piece: “[O]nce vodka starts playing nice, and doesn’t push other bottles off the bar, it’s welcome to stay there.”
If I have time to grab a split of champagne today I’ll try out the Atomic later on (and maybe even use it as a freebie 30/30 drink) — it’ll be good practice for August’s Mixology Monday, in which the theme will be vodka. In the meantime, check out Miles’ column (along with Felten’s, if you haven’t already) — it really is one of the best assessments of vodka cocktails I’ve read in a while.