Remember yesterday when I told you all about how to infuse vodka? I bet you were wondering how the stuff ended up tasting. Well, you’re in luck. I, along with 5 trusted colleagues, bravely set out to taste these mysterious libations and report our findings to you. Here they are, in order of our least favorite to the most beloved vodka of the evening.
Bacon Vodka: Bacon placed last in our taste test. No one claimed it as their favorite. No one was even sure they’d ever want to drink it again. It sounded so… interesting. I’ll admit it- I got caught up in the bacon craze that seems to be sweeping the nation, but trendiness doesn’t necessarily make for good vodka. I’ve learned a valuable lesson here and that lesson is this- drinkable meat isn’t a huge crowd pleaser. This is not to say that the vodka was awful. It just didn’t really live up to the high hopes I had for it. We mixed it with tomato juice, but were woefully out of worschteshire sauce and other mixin’s for a proper Bloody Mary, so maybe the bacon vodka didn’t get a fair chance. When you drank it alone, the bacon flavor was apparent, but we all agreed we wouldn’t want to drink it alone. Mixed with the tomato juice, Susan said she couldn’t taste much bacon at all. Cassie could. She tasted it, calling it “fascinating” while simultaneously wearing a look of disgust. Shawn, not a vodka fan to begin with, said he “didn’t hate it.” I will say this- As ambivalent as we all were about the stuff, I don’t think anyone took just one sip. It’s a taste that makes you do a little double-take, makes you want to try it one more time. I’ve got plenty left, so I’m going to do a little more experimenting with the stuff- perhaps a bacon cordial, bacon martini, or true bacon bloody mary would do the stuff justice.
He said he didn't hate it.
Apple Ginger: The apple ginger and tomato basil were actually tied for second place, each having just one person claiming it as the favorite. Unlike the bacon vodka, the apple ginger was perfectly agreeable to all. No gagging, no strong exclamations denouncing the combination of dead animal and fermented grain. And that was perhaps its downfall- it was just too generic. The apple flavor was apparent when you drank it straight, but probably wouldn’t stand up to anything stronger than tonic. And the ginger was almost undetectable. If I made it again, I’d add more ginger, as I think the spiciness of it would give it the extra little kick it needed. Susan said she wasn’t even sure if she’d be able to identify the stuff as apple-infused if she hadn’t been told. I thought it was pretty apparent, but not over the top. Cassie said the apple ginger was “pretty good. Definitely better than ‘real’ vodka.” I think I picked the wrong crowd. I realized as the tasting went on that only three of us were vodka fans to begin with.
"Better than 'real' vodka!"
Tomato Basil: I grant this one second place because while only one person voted it as the favorite, it seemed to pleasantly surprise us all. It smelled amazingly basil-y, and yes, a little tomato-y, too. I liked the smell, but I wasn’t sure how it would translate taste-wise. Cassie tried it and “barely knew it was vodka” which for her is a good thing. Elam particularly liked the smell and the way the taste started in the middle and curled to the edges of the tongue. Susan liked it, but said she wouldn’t sit around drinking it straight. Shawn choked a little when he tried it, then said he had a “very active gag reflex, but it does taste good.” Hmmmm. I wasn’t sure I’d like it, but the tomato basil really mellowed out the vodka, making it really smooth and drinkable. I think it would be fabulous for a refreshing martini and maybe a bloody mary, though I’d be afraid all the accoutrements would overwhelm the flavor.
Elam appreciates the bouquet.
Red Chile: This was definitely the crowd favorite. It’s tasty and pretty (the chiles give it a bright orange-y hue). The heat doesn’t hit you until the end, in what Edyael called a “flamy finish.” Liz loved the chile, tasting it, murmuring “mmmm pepper,” and tasting it again. I love the chili vodka. I think it’s delicious mixed with mango juice and a little seltzer. You get a sweet, creamy beginning and a nice “flamy finish.” Sexy.
Edyael contemplates the flamy finish.
So there you go. What lessons did we learn? Sometimes taking risks (i.e. meat and alcohol) will disappoint you, but playing it safe (apple ginger) won’t leave you with a lasting impression. Reach for the stars, my vodka-loving friends! Just be prepared to have your heart broken.
Thanks to the lovely tasters (in alphabetical order): Cassie, Elam, Edyael, Liz, Shawn and Susan