Close your eyes and think of a flavored vodka. Short dresses, tall heels, Kanye West’s ex-girlfriends, and loud clubs are probably bouncing around your head. For years, flavored vodkas have taken the spirit to the point where a "shaken, not stirred" martini is no longer the most prominent face of the liquor. Some even claim flavored vodkas are the number one reason for bartender injury — due to exaggerated eye-rolling and withheld hearty laughter.* With the aid of noted mixologist Claire Smith, Belvedere is planning to rescue vodka from marshmallow fluff and return it to Mr. Bond’s fancy parties.
At a recent party in Portland’s Departure Lounge, Smith explained that by steering away from over-manufactured, sickly sweet flavors, and favoring instead simple and natural ingredients, Belvedere is showing vodka can be just as respectable as it’s cousin gin. In fact, Belvedere’s distinctive maceration process more closely resembles the way gin distillers use botanicals to create their signature flavors.
Instead of merely adding manufactured chemical flavoring and sugars, as many vodka brands tend to do, Belvedere soaks fresh fruit, peels, flowers, and herbs in the vodka to create balanced tastes found in nature. This idea isn’t new — the distillers are simply looking to the spirit’s roots for guidance, as the Polish have been using this method to flavor their vodkas with herbs and honey for hundreds of years.
Don’t worry, though, you don’t have to put up with a grass-flavored vodka for the sake of tradition. While Belvedere’s process is heavily influenced by heritage, the flavors are designed with a more modern and regional palate in mind. They’re also designed to appeal to a wide variety of demographics. That’s right, men, there’s no danger of encountering Unicorn Glitter, so you can enjoy these refreshing summer cocktails without your buddies asking you where you keep your Sex and the City DVDs.
This year’s Lemon Tea vodka is an ideal partner to classic American iced tea, and Smith’s Lemon Tea Classic Punch is sure to be a hit at any BBQ. Check out the recipe below for a new and different summer party sip.
Belvedere Lemon Tea Classic Iced Punch
50 ounces Belvedere Lemon Tea
40 ounces Arizona Iced Tea
10 ounces simple syrup
20 ounces lemon juice,
Zest of 2 lemons
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, mix well, and chill. Serve ladled into individual ice-filled cups.
*OK, no one actually says this but it would be completely believable if they did. [back]
— Danya Henninger, The Drink Nation
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