Thursday, May 29, 2008
When I was a kid growing up in Brooklyn, and then Queens, I remember my father and my uncles (brothers on his side), and a few years later my godfather (husband of my godmother, both my moms friends), then my uncle (my moms brother) all talking about various things. One of those topics that has stuck in my mind was about a subject that oft times comes up in man to man discussions as it did in these various talkfests - and that topic was booze and in this particular case I mean Vodka. Somehow, I recall them talking about Vodka, over many years and throughout many get-togethers of my disjointed family. One of the recurrent themes was which of the few countries, from which it was imported, produced the best vodka (back then not nearly as many were imported as are today). I seem to recall Russia coming out as the winner for best country of origin, although I don't remember or know if a lot was imported during the cold war (although I did find out that Stolichnaya was first imported to the USA in 1965 and then Pepsi made a Pepsi-Cola for Stoli swap with the Ruskies in 1973 - both right about the time period about which I am writing, give or take a few years). They also discussed Polish Vodka, American Vodka, and Vodka from northern European countries. I don't recall an awful lot of what they said, but I do remember them telling me it was made from potatoes. I got a taste now and then, and I remember too that it was terrible.
Well nowadays, I don't think it so terrible. In fact I think it is a great alcoholic beverage to mix with other things like sodas, juices, other alcoholic ingredients, flavored seltzer and the like. The thing is though, in all those years since the mid 60s through today, I have never as best I can recall, enjoyed a Vodka that was distilled from potatoes. Stoli is made from grains, Absolut and Grey Goose likewise as far as I am aware. I am not sure about Finlandia, Ketel One, or Boru, but my guess would be grain for them also. By these brands all I have had the pleasure of being stung. Not that vodka has a nasty bite, it is neat and clean, but it can pack a sting to your psyche if you drink enough of it at any given moment. I have done so, let us say, more than thrice.
But I digress from the meat (and potatoes) of the matter - and that my friends is Vodka distilled from potatoes. It was indeed long ago that I began to associate potatoes with real man's vodka. I had known from an even earlier age, that meat and potatoes were a real man's eats, and darned tasty at that, and I enjoyed them as much as did the adults even if I was only a young lad at the time. So why would not potatoes be part of a real man's drink too! It only made sense to a lad of somewhere between about 7 to 14 (when I was mostly at home listening to all these old farts, and not yet hanging out in the park with my friends getting sloshed). Now as I said, I do not recall ever imbibing of the spirits of distilled potatoes in the past. Heck I never even saw a vodka made from smashed in the past as far as I know. But there I was, in the vodka section, of the local retailer of fine spirits, just before this past weekend began. (Last Thursday or Friday night, which it was I cannot recall.) Well, there I was perusing the stock on hand, and debating between Stoli, and another brand or two, when something caught my eye. It had not quite registered, but I knew whatever it was had been important enough for me to scan the bottles again once or twice before it did register. When it did, a smile came to my face, because what I had seen were the words: POTATO VODKA" and the words "100% Neutral Potato Spirits".
I grabbed hold of a bottle and took a better look. The brand was Luksusowa, made in Poland, and it was 80 proof. It was also triple distilled through charcoal. All seemed well with the world, except maybe that it appeared the only bottle size they had of it was: 1.75 liters. Now that my friends is about double the size of the bottle I normally get, and I thought it a tad much. I searched in vain for a smaller size and finally decided on the one at hand. I was happily surprised to discover it was only about $26.00 including tax for that size bottle. I usually pay more than that for less than half the amount of another brand, and those made from grain. Now do not get me wrong - there is nothing wrong with booze made from grain, not even Vodka made from grain, but Vodka made from potatoes had a certain aura to it for me - after all I had memories of it being the real man's Vodka!
So needless to say, I grabbed it, paid for it, and was soon enjoying it. I had a couple of drinks with it over the weekend, mixed drinks made with simple ingredients like cherry flavored seltzer, orange juice, cranberry juice, and Hawaiian Punch. I liked it best with cherry flavored seltzer, but the others by themselves, or in weird mixtures with one another, and some vodka are all fine by me. Of course before trying it in a mixed drink, I gave it the real man's test for any booze and I had one (or was it two) neat (straight up). It was ever so smooth, and that was a big surprise considering how inexpensive it had been. Now after several more mixed drinks, and one or two neat, I can say without a doubt, it is still ever so smooth. This is good stuff, and I suggest if you are a Vodka drinker and can get hold of a bottle, that you give it a try.
The terrible picture I just took of it is to make you familiar with the look of it in case you happen to look for it in your local fine spirits emporium. The stuff in the glass next to it is a combination of OJ, Cranberry Juice, and a tad of the Luksusowa Potato Vodka (can't have too much since I do have to work tomorrow). I have to wonder, does my concoction have as many servings of fruit and vegetables as does that letter after U/number before 9 drink they advertise on television all the time? Maybe not, but I'd bet it packs more of a wallop and tastes better. As you can see there has been a fair depletion of the liquid nectar from that bottle in just a week's time - of course, mostly taken in over the long Memorial Day weekend.
If you do decide to enjoy some of this splendid alcoholic beverage, please remember to drink responsibly, and don't mix drinking alcohol with handling firearms, driving, operating machinery and so forth because when you screw up in a moment while drunk, you have to live with the consequences for the rest of your life.
All the best,