Your favorite drink is a Vodka Martini, and perhaps you have a strong preference for Grey Goose, Belvedere, or some even more expensive, exotic, or craft vodka. You might garnish it with an olive or a lemon twist, but what you do NOT do is add vermouth, nor do you even nod in the direction of France. So, really you drink high quality vodka shots, and there’s nothing wrong with that. If you’d like to change it up a little while you’re stuck at home waiting for civilization to break down, we can suggest a few potential baby steps based on what you already know about yourself. Pick one that sounds good and try it a new Lockdown Vodka Martini.
- If you enjoy citrus flavors, you could add a small amount of orange, lemon, or lime juice. We’re not talking about making a Screwdriver here, we’re talking maybe a tablespoon. Fresh squeeze it, don’t use anything from a bottle – you don’t drink Smirnoff and you’re not a Philistine. Make sure you shake this on ice – citrus does not mix easily. Alternatively, get yourself a bottle of Regan’s orange bitters and give it two or three dashes – just enough to give it a distinctive flavor. You can get away with stirring that.
- You may want to consider adding vermouth – yes, we know, you hate dry vermouth. What you might not know is that you’ve probably been drinking STALE dry vermouth, and that makes a huge difference. Get a small bottle (no more than a 350ml, and we’ve seen some 175ml bottles), keep it in the refrigerator, and throw it away a month later. But try putting a little into your martini, maybe start with a 10:1 ratio and increase slowly. For this experiment we highly recommend also adding at least a dash of the Regan’s. Stir on ice for at least 60 seconds, or shake it if you like the ice chips. Now you can call it a Vodka Martini (or, a Lockdown Vodka Martini) and you don’t have to bring up the fib every week at confession!
- If you like the flavor of black licorice, get a bottle of Pernod, Absinthe, or a Pastis. Yeah, it’s expensive, and it doesn’t come in small bottles. You can use this instead of or in addition to the Regan’s in both the ideas above, but do it in very small quantities. Dave uses an atomizer for absinthe, Will likes to rinse the glass. This one could change your life. Speaking of which, make sure you add the bottle of Pernod to your will; there will definitely be some left when you die.
- Gin. No, we’re not recommending that you convert to gin martinis, although if you have not tried them in a long time you should consider it. Instead, we suggest that you just add a little gin to your Vodka Martini. You’ll want to get a good gin for this, because you will taste it over the vodka. For a dry gin we’d recommend Plymouth, if you like juniper consider an Old Tom style gin like Ransom (or if your drink must be entirely colorless, use Hayman’s Old Tom). There are also many terrific local craft gins these days in mostly places. Like the vermouth, start with a 10:1 ratio and increase from there.
- If you don’t mind a little sweetness, get a small bottle of Carpano Antica, which is a sweet vermouth but really is in a class of its own. Mix it with the vodka 5:1 (5 parts vodka) and a few dashes of Regan’s. Stir this one over ice.
- If you like sake, mix two parts vodka with one part sake. We prefer dry Junmai, but you should pick a sake you like, because that’s what it will taste like: 70-proof sake. We suggest this is a good opportunity also to try a cocktail onion, but works great with an olive or lemon twist. We call this a Vodkaki.
Once you establish a foothold in one of these directions, you can experiment further. There is a lot of trial-and-error in finding cocktails that you like, and vodka is a great place to start because you’re not turned off by a boozy experience.