DAY 9: ODE TO VODKA
The biggest challenge of creating a cocktail for a holiday party is trying to appease a variety of palettes. There will always be someone who can’t stand tequila or gin or bourbon or EGG NOG, but short of hiring a bartender or bartending your own party, you won’t be able to please everyone. But I think you can get pretty damn close. I would never consider myself a cocktail snob, I’m an equal opportunity imbiber. But if someone MADE me pick a spirit to vote off the island I’d have to pick vodka. Sorry, vodka. I’m not a hater, and I think amongst the more serious mixologists vodka gets kind of picked on. I look at vodka as that person you invite to a potluck who brings cups, I mean you’re going to need the cups, but really you’re not really bringing much to the party. That being said, I find vodka cocktails to be fun and challenging. You’re basically working with a blank canvas which can be overwhelming and exciting. When you’re using spirits like gin or bourbon you’re working with existing flavor profiles, and trying to create a mixer to compliment those flavors. When you’re creating a vodka cocktail your entire focus is on the mixer. The other thing that I love about vodka cocktails is that they’re almost guaranteed to appease all the guests at a party. Unless you’re pairing it with a really out there or savory mixer, vodka cocktails are reliable crowd pleasers. I think everyone has that one spirit that really left a mark (Ya, I see you tequila) and vodka seems to be the one exception to the rule.
For today’s cocktail, I’m pairing vodka with an amazing mixer that was taught to me by my brother-in-law’s mother. Tepache is a traditional fermented pineapple beverage made in Central America. It is so easy to make and packs so much flavor. Pineapple can be overly sweet but this mixer is just the right amount of funky to really mellow out the sugar.
Glassware: rocks glass
Garnish: Persimmon slice or pineapple slice
1 ½ oz Watershed Vodka
3 oz tepache
1 oz soda water
Add vodka and tepache to a shaker tin with ice. Shake well and strain into glass add soda water. Drink up!
1 gallon glass jar with a tight fitting lid
1 pineapple top, bottom and core removed
1 tbsp whole all spice berries
2 cinnamon sticks
1 lb piloncillo (unrefined cane sugar, You can typically find this in the ethnic aisle of your grocery store or just substitute with dark brown sugar. The piloncillo just has a higher molasses content and flavor)
Chop the pineapple and the persimmon. Add all ingredients to your jar. Fill up with water and leave about at least a half inch of space in your jar. Keep jar out room temp for 3 days. After 3 days, strain and store in an air tight container in your fridge. I don’t recommend using a hinge top bottle to store this. This is a fermented beverage so it will continue to carbonate as it sits so just be careful when you’re opening it.
WITH A TWIST
A traditional tepache is typically just pineapple, sugar and cinnamon. Have fun mixing up the recipe. It’s great with different spices like cloves, cardamom, nutmeg. Add different fruit like cranberries or plums. The tepache world is yours to conquer. Tepache pairs well with a variety of spirits. I love it with a good strong Amaro like Cardamaro or Averna. It’s awesome with tequila or gin, as well. I like it without soda water but if you find it to be too strong add soda water to taste.
LIKE A VIRGIN
This makes for a fun and festive N/A options for guest who don’t imbibe or for the kiddos at your party. Again add soda water to taste or serve right out of the bottle
FOR A CROWD
This makes for a beautiful punch. Use slices of pineapple that you freeze as your ice and orange and limes slices. If you’re feeling extra fancy swap out the soda water with sparkling wine!
Thank you, vodka, for being my go to for large gatherings. I know you get overlooked sometimes but where would I be without you? Cheers to Vodka! We’re so sorry all for the mean things we’ve said in the past. You’re actually a bad ass and you’ll always be on my nice list!
Your neighborhood bar geek,