Sunday, August 9, 2009


The theme for this month's Mixology Monday (MxMo XLI) is "Vodka is Your Friend" as chosen by Amelia at Felicia's Speakeasy blog. Amelia described the impetus behind her theme as, "The recent high profile bashings of vodka interspersed with a few weak 'yeah, buts...' left me wondering, is vodka the axis of evil, our most dangerous enemy? While it may not be the life of the party, experts agree: Vodka's obituary does not have to be written just yet."

When I first read this theme back in April or so, one drink immediately sprung into my head and over the next 4 months I had to wait patiently. This drink was the Sputnik named after the world's first manmade satellite launched by Russia in the 1950's. With the heated space race then, the "axis of evil, our most dangerous enemy" question of the Amelia's theme shown through. The Sputnik was a drink that I had made a few years prior where the choice of vodka not only matches the Russian concept but plays a role to temper this drink. Over those months, I schemed everything from the garnish to the proper country of origin of the vodka. The last time we made the drink, I used Ketel One but Dutch vodka seemed a little wrong for this. However, at Tales of the Cocktail this year, we met one of the reps for Russian Standard whose enthusiasm for the product was contagious and its country of origin was indeed right.

Ketel One and Russian Standard are both wheat vodkas in the same price range. While we are no vodka connoisseurs, Andrea and I tasted them side by side (we left the Ruble vodka from the Local Flavor MxMo out of the comparison). While Ketel One was sweeter, Russian Standard seemed to be more interesting with a more pronounced wheaty aftertaste and a fuller mouthfeel. The burn level of both going down were comparable.

The recipe from the Sputnik derives from CocktailDB and we are unsure of the original source. I believe we originally found it while looking for Fernet Branca containing recipes.
• 1 1/2 oz Vodka
• 1/2 oz Fernet Branca
• 1/2 oz Lemon (or Lime) Juice
• 1/2 tsp Sugar
Add juice and sugar and stir. Add rest of ingredients and ice, shake, and strain into a cocktail glass.
The Sputnik contains a healthy slug of the potent bitter amaro Fernet Branca which can often dominate a drink's flavor profile. The vodka did a good job of diluting down the Fernet Branca and the lemon-sugar combination tempered its potency. Andrea really liked this presentation of Fernet Branca as certain notes such as the mint and menthol were still noticeable and others were greatly softened. While the recipe did not include a garnish, it seemed like it could use one. A lemon twist would have been delightful, but a melon ball with toothpicks model of Sputnik 1 orbiting the rim of the glass seemed the way to go. Davai!

Thank you to Amelia for hosting this month's theme! And please visit her blog post to see the Mixology Monday wrap up with the rest of the vodka friendly submissions.


scomorokh said...

Russian Standart is great choice for this cocktail. I have one with Russian Standart - it is great man drink! See on my blog:


Who is Felicia? said...

Thanks, Frederic! Check our blog tonight for a round up. Or tomorrow, depending on how much I drink while I write.