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Tiki Central Forums Tiki Drinks and Food Vodka history anyone?
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Vodka history anyone?
kahukini
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 28, 2002
Posts: 555
From: Saint Louis
Posted: 2002-12-31 03:18 am   Permalink

Given that I was 13 when the soviet union fell and that I had my first cocktail in 2000 (incredibly late I agree), I do not feel embarrased to ask this apparently naive question of the more distinguished members of this forum...
Please inform me... if while going out in the eighties, vodka was... disparaged in any way in particular because it was russian... now "russian" is proudly identified on the bottle of Stoli.. perhaps it was then as well. but Vodka has always been identified with russia... while it was our mortal enemy, what did that mean for martinis... how did you feel sipping a vodka martini in a club in the eighties ... or could you? Do you feel that its lack of popularity had to do with the cold war?

I look forward to your memories!


 
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PiPhiRho
Grand Member (first year)  

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 1020
From: Redondo Beach
Posted: 2002-12-31 03:52 am   Permalink

Even the most confirmed anti-communists still drank vodka. Sure, Stoli and other Russian vodkas were less commonly available during the cold war, but there were plenty of good old American vodkas with Russian sounding names like Kamchatka and Smirnoff. Vodka is not exclusively Russian, either. The Japanese make it, the Swedes make it, the Austrians and the Polish and even the Irish make it. We are just blessed to have a better class of Vodka today for our martinis, and we still don't need the Russian stuff. Ever had Skyy? Myself, I prefer my martinis with gin. Bombay Sapphire. Plymouth. Who really needs vodka anyway?


 
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Tiki_Bong
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Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 0
Posted: 2002-12-31 11:20 am   Permalink

Kahukini,

A very insightful question you ask indeed!

As one who was in the club scene during the '80's I can confidently tell you that ordering a drink with vodka did not summon an inquiry from the House sub-committee on UnAmerican Activities.

HOWEVER! Anyone ordering borscht was immediately hauled off by the CIA and questioned with cattle prods (ouch).


_________________
"I'm ashamed to be here, but not too ashamed to leave..."


    
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martiki
Official Mixologist

Joined: Mar 29, 2002
Posts: 3058
From: http://www.smugglerscovesf.com
Posted: 2002-12-31 12:14 pm   Permalink

I think the most insightful question about vodka is the following: This is a spirit that is DESIGNED to be absolutely flavor neutral. This is how it is defined by the ABC. While there is no question that there is a definite difference between something off the bottom shelf from San Jose that tastes like molten lava, and something from the top that is quite smooth, what does the smooth taste like? As far as I can tell, nothing. Smooth nothing. Can anyone tell the difference between potato and grain vodka?

I guess my point is that, worrying about all the different top shelf brands (Ketel, Chopin, Grey Goose, Belvedere, etc.) seems a bit silly. Just pick a half decent one and run with it.

Thoughts?

-martin


 
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aquarj
Grand Member (8 years)  

Joined: Apr 02, 2002
Posts: 1080
From: SF bay area, CA
Posted: 2002-12-31 1:12 pm   Permalink

I don't have vodka very often, but there was one outstanding drink I thought I'd mention here. I had this at the Encounter at the LAX airport, and it's called a Milky Way. I think it was just two ingredients, in a martini glass:

- vanilla Stoli
- white creme de cacao

HOO HAH! Crystal clear, icy, and delicious. I don't know the proportions they use at the Encounter, but there's a similar drink called String of Pearls or something like that, which I think is 2 parts vodka to 1 part c-de-c, and which also includes some cream.

Speaking of booze places of origin, I always wondered why "authentic" polynesian drinks use mostly caribbean rum. Why would rum be any more authentic than tequila, bourbon, or any other non-polynesian alcohol? Maybe because authentic is really in light of the choices of post-war bartenders and drink wizards like Donn Beach, as opposed to what original hawaiians drank to feel tipsy? Just like the pop tiki bonanza is really more about mainland fantasy and escapism, than polynesian spirituality?

-Randy


 
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martiki
Official Mixologist

Joined: Mar 29, 2002
Posts: 3058
From: http://www.smugglerscovesf.com
Posted: 2002-12-31 1:25 pm   Permalink

Quote:



Speaking of booze places of origin, I always wondered why "authentic" polynesian drinks use mostly caribbean rum. Why would rum be any more authentic than tequila, bourbon, or any other non-polynesian alcohol?

Just like the pop tiki bonanza is really more about mainland fantasy and escapism, than polynesian spirituality?

-Randy



Good question, I think the reason is simply that rum is basically an island spirit. A palm tree is a palm tree.


-martin


 
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PolynesianPop
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Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 2368
From: Corona, Ca
Posted: 2002-12-31 1:59 pm   Permalink

Actually, Polynesian authenticity had nothing to do with it. Rum is a by-product of sugar cane, which was mass produced and a big industry in the Carribean at the time. Hence, it was was the cheapest liquer to mix drinks with. Over time, Hawaiian sugar cane factories began producing rum as well. As the lore of Polynesian culture grew in the 50's & 60's, I think the lines of authenticity blurred and an irony was born: Authentic polynesian cocktails must be made with Carribean rum!

A polynesian cocktail is in itself a bit of an oxymoron. The natives of ancient Hawaii and other South Pacific islands did not consume alcohol. Their elixir of choice was kava.

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thejab
Grand Member (first year)  

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 2986
From: Tradewinds Apartments, Alameda, CA
Posted: 2002-12-31 3:50 pm   Permalink

Getting back to the discussion on vodka: It was practically nonexistent in the U.S. until the 50's, when a fella named Smirnoff wanted to import it from the Soviet Union so he invented a drink called the Moscow Mule (vodka, ginger beer, and lime juice) to increase it's popularity. In the 60s James Bond films increased the popularity of the vodka martini. And in the 70s boring mixed drinks like the screwdriver pratically killed off the classic cocktail. By then rich gourmands were discovering that high-quality vodkas served ice cold were good with caviar, which led to the popularity of Stoli and others.

I would say that for mixing any vodka will do, but for vodka martinis, a good one like Ketel One does the trick. I agree with the ABC that vodkas should have no flavor. That is what the better vodkas do well - a clean flavorless drink. Cheaper vodkas generally impart bad flavors or oiliness. Still, I don't understand the popularity of top shelf vodka. To me a cocktail should have some flavor, and I like the taste of gin (regular Bombay please).

Everyone have a happy new year! I unfortunately will be staying at home with the chicken pox (no, I never had it as a child).
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traderfranks
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Apr 11, 2002
Posts: 39
From: Fresno
Posted: 2002-12-31 7:12 pm   Permalink

Are you sure it's not smallpox?

Lono@tikigardens.com
http://www.tikigardens.com

Quote:

On 2002-12-31 15:50, thejab wrote:
Everyone have a happy new year! I unfortunately will be staying at home with the chicken pox (no, I never had it as a child).




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ob seagull
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Sep 24, 2002
Posts: 81
From: san diego
Posted: 2003-01-01 11:06 am   Permalink

i recall a scene from the '87 movie "no way out" w/ kevin costner ordering a shot of stolis at some military function. this was the eighties and he was dressed in navy whites and was an intelligence officer.

granted this was a remake of "the big clock", it should provide a point that if you ordered a russian vodka drink in the eighties i don't think you would be deported. also i bet coke was what was ordered at a bar and consumed in the bathroom. heh heh

thankyoudon'tdrivethru


 
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Shipwreckjoey
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 29, 2002
Posts: 1794
From: San Diego, CA
Posted: 2003-01-01 5:48 pm   Permalink

Remember a movie called Red Heat. Arnold Schwarzinegger plays a Russian cop come to Chicago in search of an escaped convict. He remarks about the aquarium in the American police chief's office, he tells him that's what he uses to relieve stress then asked Arnold "what do Russian cops use to relieve stress" to wit Arnold replies: "VODKA"

 
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DaneTiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 29, 2002
Posts: 113
From: Minneapolis, MN
Posted: 2003-01-03 5:13 pm   Permalink

________________
And he opened a lockfast place, and took out a round-bellied bottle with a long neck; the glass of it was white like milk, with changing rainbow colours in the grain. Withinsides something obscurely moved, like a shadow and a fire. -The Bottle Imp

[ This Message was edited by: DaneTiki 2009-08-30 19:28 ]


 
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PolynesianPop
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 2368
From: Corona, Ca
Posted: 2003-01-03 6:05 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2003-01-03 17:13, DaneTiki wrote:

As for rum, much of it is made from molasses. I'm not sure I'd call that a "by-product" of sugar production, as you have to do a lot of boiling to get from cane juice to molasses.



Yes however, molasses is the final by-product in the manufacture of raw sugar from sugar cane. In much of the Carribean, rum distillers are legally required to primarily be sugar refiners. Here's an interesting website that talks about the process:

http://www.nepaldistilleries.com/making_of_rum.html

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Bartender, make mine a glass of WATAHHH!!!!!


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kahukini
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 28, 2002
Posts: 555
From: Saint Louis
Posted: 2003-01-04 7:24 pm   Permalink

Regarding the vodka purity issue...
I had the opportunity to bartend at a restaurant for the rich (and people who think they are) this summer called the "Standard Bistro" inside a weird neighborhood development in a county bordering Birmingham called Mt. Laurel
http://www.mtlaurel.com/
- whenever I had patrons sucking down the Grey Goose I felt the sadist need to inform them that I didn't really think the stuff was vodka. It's good, but vodka, come on? There's just too much flavor... it's somewhere between gin and vodka don't you think?
Several people got very defensive about their choice of vodka, seemed to feel that I was somehow insulting them by suggesting that they were drinking something "fake" - although this was not my point. It's quite real. It's just not vodka


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Shipwreckjoey
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 29, 2002
Posts: 1794
From: San Diego, CA
Posted: 2003-01-12 11:34 pm   Permalink

Hey Jab
I,m with you on the Bombay. That sh*t's da kine. Like my martini real dry. I poor about a half shot of vermouth in the glass and then swish it around and pour it out. Next comes the chilled Bombay & 2 olives (I like these olives I got from Gilroy, CA stuffed with a clove of garlic).There good for ya too!


 
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