Monday, April 23, 2018


I forgot how delicious a Kamikazi is when made with quality vodka. Three ounces of vodka, in such large proportion to the other ingredients, really makes the vodka you choose a main feature of the drink. I enjoyed sipping a Divine Clarity Kamikazi with it's 100-percent potato vodka. This is a really clean vodka that is still produced in small batches. You can find it in Virginia ABC stores now, but if you can't get MurLarkey spirits, make sure you use a good vodka. That will keep this drink from sliding back to the pre-craft era of the 90's when bad cocktails were the norm.
  • 3 oz. vodka (Divine Clarity used)
  • 1/2 tsp. lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp. triple sec
  • lime wedge
Combine liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the lime wedge. 

Polynesian Cocktail

The Polynesian Cocktail is really an attempt at making a cocktail taste tropical with traditional bar ingredients. There are no native Polynesian spirits, so vodka is an acceptable base. The flavor comes from cherry brandy, which would be very rich if it wasn't for the citrus juices.

In the photo I'm paying homage to Duke Kahanamoku, the famous Hawaiian surfer, with this necklace of shells and coaster. These ideas are loosely connected to the theme of Polynesia. 
  • 2 oz. vodka (Divine Clarity used)
  • 1 oz. cherry brandy (Heering used)
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • lime wedge 
  • sugar
Rim a cocktail glass with sugar. Combine liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the lime wedge.

Gumdrop Martini

This was a complicated drink with difficult-to-handle garnishes. Why? Gumdrops have a mind of their own, and I didn't want them just sitting at the bottom of the glass, even though that is a perfectly good serving suggestion. The gumdrops do look beautiful on the edge of that sugar rim.

The 90's are responsible for funny ideas like the Gumdrop Martini, back when vodka drinks emulated candy and almost encouraged children to drink. (JollyBartender does not advocate for underage drinking.) It was the age of vodka and people's tastes were simpler then. Alcohol had to taste like candy to entice new drinkers. I know some people who have not evolved beyond this drinking trend. For this reason a 90's vintage bar manual will be full of vodka drinks with these kinds of flavors.

For this cocktail I made my own lemon flavored rum rather than use the Bacardi Limon that was common back in the 90's. This is a simple infusion of the zest of one lemon and four ounces of light rum. A ready-made alternative available in Virginia can be found in MurLarkey's lemon whiskey, which is made the same way but with a whiskey base. If you can get that, you'll also find that Divine Clarity is a suitable vodka at a decent price.
  • 2 oz. lemon flavored rum (homemade infusion used)
  • 1 oz. vodka (Divine Clarity used)
  • 1/2 oz. Southern Comfort (Bird Dog peach whiskey used)
  • 1/2 tsp. dry vermouth
  • lemon slice
  • gumdrops
  • sugar
Rim a cocktail glass with sugar. Combine liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into the glass and garnish with a lemon slice and gumdrops. 

Pineapple Lemonade

This is an easy drink to pull off with canned pineapple juice and lemonade, two common bar staples. I'm surprised how special it tastes, despite this. Pineapple Lemonade is the kind of drink that I want to recommend to beginner home bartenders.
Combine vodka and pineapple juice in a Collins glass full of ice. Top with lemonade and stir. 

Apple Pie

Unusually, I made this entire cocktail with bootleg moonshine. I can't tell you where I got the stuff, but it is a very small amount, as you can see in the jars in the photo above. Vanilla infused vodka is a major part of the flavor of this drink. I made it by dropping a vanilla bean in a jar of vodka and let it infuse for several days.

The apple brandy I used is actually an infusion of winesap apples in apple brandy (moonshine). I used this in place of Calvados, which also has a strong apple flavor. Either of these spirits is preferable to applejack, which doesn't have much flavor.

As it was, this moonshine cocktail was too strong to enjoy. I recommend adding a touch of simple syrup or even a splash of water to make it more refreshing.
  • 3 oz. vanilla flavored vodka (vanilla infused vodka used)
  • 1/2 oz. Calvados (apple infused apple brandy used)
  • 1/2 oz. dry vermouth
  • apple slice
Combine liquid ingredients in a Collins glass full of ice. Stir and garnish with the apple slice. 

Aqueduct Cocktail

This enigmatically named cocktail feels like it is trying to be European, but mixing a cocktail with vodka is mostly an American thing. More complex than a Lemon Drop Martini, the Aqueduct Cocktail has noticeably rich stone fruit flavor in addition to citrus. 
  • 2 oz. Vodka (Divine Clarity used)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. curacao
  • 1 tsp. apricot brandy
  • 1 tsp. lime juice
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • lemon twist
Combine all ingredients except lemon twist in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon twist. 

Vodka Cooler

The Vodka Cooler is unusual in that it is one vodka drink that accentuates the flavor (little that it may be) of the vodka rather than trying to change it with syrups, liquors or juices. A quality vodka has a pleasant mouthfeel and richness, not just burn. It comes from multiple distillations and careful filtration.

MurLarkey Distillery gave me their Divine Clarity potato vodka to play with, and I am enjoying using it in non-traditional ways. This vodka recently won gold in the San Francisco Spirits Competition for craft vodka. They are still a small craft distillery and the quality of this spirit reflects this.
  • 2 oz. vodka (Divine Clarity used)
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • sparkling water
  • lemon peel
Combine vodka and sugar in a Collins glass full of ice. Fill with sparkling water and stir. Garnish with the lemon twist.