When pairing beverages with dinner, we often start with a cocktail and move on to wine. But what if there was a single spirit that could carry us through the evening—and what if that spirit was ultra luxury vodka?
“A martini is the perfect palate opener,” says Justin Noel, the proprietor of New York’s 1534, Bleecker Kitchen and Company and Sweetwater Social. “It makes me quite peckish.” The idea of beginning a meal with a vodka cocktail is nothing new, of course, but continuing with a single spirit as cocktail hour moves toward dinner remains a novel concept.
Novel, maybe, but not without precedent. Says noted bar professional Tony Abou-Ganim, “Of perhaps all spirits there are very few you would drink on their own with food as you would with vodka.” Abou-Ganim traveled to St. Petersburg, Moscow, Sweden, Finland and Poland when researching his book, Vodka Distilled. “You’d go out and have this excellent food, food made utilizing some of the traditional techniques of the region, like smoking, curing and pickling,” he says. “Wines can be difficult to match with those flavors, and no single bottle would pair with everything. Enter vodka.”
Prized for its mixability, vodka is also incredibly versatile. The spirit pairs beautifully with caviar, of course, but also stands up to smoked salmon, pickled herring, foie gras and other rich meats. Plus, says Abou-Ganim, “There’s something incredibly sexy about bringing a near-frozen bottle of an excellent vodka, like elit™ by Stolichnaya®, to the table. Drinking vodka with the right food, it’s a really special experience.”