Oddka Vodka – Electricity Flavor

In these times of flavored vodkas, it takes little to shock us anymore. Swedish Fish? Sure, Hemingway’s in Pittsburgh was doing a pitcher of shots of that flavor long before Pinnacle picked it up. Wedding Cake? I guess there’s a market for that. S’mores? Whatever, you get the point. People love to buy, but don’t necessarily love to drink, flavored vodka. The main appeal, and probably driving force, is likely the question that comes to mind of all adventurous tasters (ever since Orbitz debuted in the late 90’s): “What does it taste like?”

Most of the time Matt and I can ignore this nagging question, but when we saw Oddka’s Electricity flavored vodka, we had to know. And what does it taste like? It tastes like… blue. It tastes like blue raspberry cough syrup and vodka. Which is why it really, really bothers me that in a sea of cocktail suggestions for their other flavors (like Wasabi, Fresh Cut Grass, Salty Caramel Popcorn, and Apple Pie) that they only offer this: shoot it.

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That’s it. Just shoot it. I refuse to accept this. We found that drinking it on the rocks with club soda actually made it much more drinkable, kind of like a melted blue raspberry slushie. But then we found the combination it was made for. The combination that those people who were kids in the late 90’s buying bottles of Orbitz at the 7-11 after school didn’t know they were missing. Trader Joe’s Vintage Cola and Electric Oddka (1:3 vodka ratio over ice). It tastes like a blue raspberry slushie and a coke slushie mixed together. It tastes just like nostalgia.

Same goes for an Electric Screwdriver (just what you expect, orange juice and Electric Oddka), it tastes like some kind of juice with a flashy name dreamed up by marketers and hated by parents. We’d recommend it to you, for sure, but it’s more of a special occasion vodka. Experiment on your own!

We’ll admit, the product design really did catch our eye too, being nerds and fans of turn of the century scientists. Might have been why we gave it a chance in the first place.

How to Stock Your Bar

Aside from booze blogs, web comics, regular comics, and as many books as we can get our hands on, we (specifically Matt) like to read certain menswear blogs. In particular we recommend An Affordable Wardrobe and Put This On, which inspired our video segments. One of the common questions addressed on menswear blogs is how to build a wardrobe and not surprisingly, the process is very similar to stocking your bar.

This is our collection a year ago. Much like a child, it has only gotten larger and more expensive since then.

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Film Friday: Mad Men

At long last Mad Men is back! A couple episodes into the new season and we’re as happy as Roger Sterling in a pool full of Stolichnaya, which is why we’re taking this opportunity to bend the rules on our Film Friday series. So sure, Mad Men isn’t a film, but after 4 seasons the character development is outstanding, the writing is absolutely on point, and the editing and camerawork are downright cinematic. Besides, it’s our blog and we’ll do what we want.

So suppose for a moment that for the past five years you’ve been consciously avoiding AMC and shunning their programming lineup. Maybe you’re under the impression that this “Mad Men” thing that people keep talking about is some gruesome spinoff of Angry Birds. But now you’ve seen the light. You read something online that changed your mind, or that cute girl at work was talking about the show, or maybe your friends and family staged an intervention, because they love you and want you to be happy with your television choices. Anyway, you’ve decided that you need to start watching this Mad Men show and through the miracle of Netflix you can start right from the beginning.

While I wouldn’t recommend going drink for drink with the characters onscreen, we find that the show’s more enjoyable with a strong drink in hand. As such, here’s a guide drinking along with Mad Men, season by season.

Mad Men season one with a Martini and Vodka Gimlet

Season 1: Martinis and Vodka Gimlets

Still steeped in the glamor and buttoned-up culture of the 1950’s, the first season of Mad Men begins in 1960 – the Drapers and the Sterlings sip traditional alcohol-heavy drinks in their favorite clubs, at home, and at work. More importantly, these period-appropriate cocktails will sooth the shock of some characters’ blatant sexism. But as the final scene of season 1 implies, the shows writers have a higher opinion of the female characters than do many of the male characters.

Season 2: Cuba Libres and Heineken with a side of Utz potato chips

I must admit, that of the four full seasons so far, season 2 is my least favorite. However, 3 & 4 more than make up for it and there are important plot points in season 2 that will be important later on. We went with Heineken and Utz for this season because both brands are featured as clients of the Sterling Cooper ad agency. But with the Cuban missile crisis looming at the end of the season, we figured the politically pertinent Cuba Libre would make a good fit.

Season 3: Old Fashioneds and French 75s

Season 3 is back on track with quality writing, compelling stories, and masterful filmmaking. This season is one of triumph, tragedy and strife, which made our selections more difficult. There is a birth and a death, which led us to the French 75. A celebratory drink, the French 75 is champagne-based, but also takes its name from a First World War artillery gun. And in episode 6 an altercation with a lawnmower inspired the selection of the Old Fashioned, a somewhat gory muddled drink.

Season 4: Irish Coffee and Dempsey Cocktail

We figure that if you’ve gotten this far you’ve probably missed some sleep, so wake yourself up with an Irish Coffee and soldier on. You’re on the home stretch. Once you’re awake, switch to the Dempsey Cocktail (which we’ll be posting in a few days). Named for the legendary boxer Jack Dempsey, this drink fits in with season 4’s combative themes. As Don battles with Betty and Sterling Cooper Draper Price go head-to-head with a rival agency, we see the characters at their best and at their worst. In fact, in one of the show’s many examples of highlighting historical context, episode 7 takes place the same night as Muhammad Ali’s second match-up against Sonny Liston.

Season 5 is off to a good start and we’re super excited to have new episodes to look forward to. As the season progresses, leave us suggestions in the comments as to what your drink of choice is for this season.

Homemade Grenadine

One of the disadvantages of living and drinking under the thumb of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board is that if the PLCB doesn’t carry it – short of taking up amateur rum running – you can’t get it. In this case, we’re talking about grenadine. Now it’s not that you can’t get grenadine, you’d actually be hard-pressed to find a PA liquor store that doesn’t stock it, but rather that every PA liquor store has the same grenadine.

Jacquin’s Cordials is a Philadelphia-based producer of bottom-shelf liquors and liqueurs, and the only brand the PLCB carries of several cocktail essentials, not least of which is grenadine. Theoretically, grenadine should be made from pomegranate juice (grenade is French for pomegranate) though even outside of Pennsylvania it can be tough to find a commercial grenadine that still is. These days most grenadine is like Jacquin’s: artificially flavored and over-sugared with so much corn syrup you could probably distill it into bourbon. Much like maraschino liqueur, grenadine is overdue for an artisanal back-to-basics overhaul.

Homemade Grenadine

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New Year’s Eve 2011: Nomayo

While our previous two cocktails, the French 75 and Scotch Royale are classics, our third and final New Year’s cocktail is a new one. The distinguishing ingredient here is St. Germain Elderflower liqueur, which has only been on the market a few years. Even so, this distinct French import has found its way into a host of fantastic new cocktails, plus the deco-tastic bottle looks great on any bar.

This recipe was pulled directly from the St. Germain website.

1 1/2 oz vodka or gin (we used vodka)

3/4 oz St. Germain

1/2 oz lemon juice

top with champagne

Fill a shaker half full of ice and shake all ingredients except the champagne. Strain into a chilled champagne flute or coupe and top with champagne. Garnish with an orange peel.

The Nomayo

Vesper

Though James Bond, quintessential super spy and icon of debonair sophistication, prefers his trademark Martini “shaken, not stirred.” Ian Fleming’s character is credited with the invention of this variation, the Vesper. In the first Bond novel, Casino Royale, 007 pauses midway through ordering a traditional Martini and, as though struck by inspiration, amends his order with a specific set of instructions.

‘A dry martini,’ he said. ‘One. In a deep champagne goblet.’

‘Oui, monsieur.’

‘Just a moment. Three measures of Gordon’s [Gin], one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?’

‘Certainly monsieur.’ The barman seemed pleased with the idea.

‘Gosh, that’s certainly a drink,’ said Leiter.

Bond laughed. ‘When I’m…er…concentrating,’ he explained, ‘I never have more than one drink before dinner. But I do like that one to be large and very strong and very cold, and very well-made. I hate small portions of anything, particularly when they taste bad. This drink’s my own invention. I’m going to patent it when I think of a good name.’

Well we finally found a bottle of Lillet in a PA liquor store and decided it was time to sample Bond’s creation. Lillet is a fortified white wine, very similar to vermouth, with the addition of several botanical and citrus notes. This makes the Vesper a more complex cocktail than the simplicity of a Martini, both in execution and in flavor. As devoted as I am to Martinis, it is possible to suffer from drink fatigue. The Vesper’s a nice way to mix things up a little if you still want to stay in the same neighborhood.

Vesper

The Boozehounds’ 2012 Wishlist

Around this time food analysts start to predict and report on trends we’ll being seeing in the next year. Things we’re happy about include craft marshmallows, the decline of cupcakes, the rise of Sriracha, more gourmet comfort food (like at our beloved, reservations strongly recommended, Pittsburgh gastropub Meat & Potatoes), mainstreaming breakfast for dinner, and arguably more pre-prohibition cocktail making.

Here’s what we’re wishing for in 2012:

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