French-made Grey Goose vodka has long been heralded in my husband’s family as the base of a true vodka tonic. After recently discovering a few small-batch vodka distillers from around the US, I formed a panel of experienced vodka drinkers to help me with a taste test. Thank you, panelists.
Grey Goose Vodka, distilled from grain; Teton Glacier Vodka, a potato-based gem from The Gem State (actually, I think it’s made in Wyoming, not Idaho, but I’m willing to bet the potatoes are Famous Potatoes); Cold River Vodka, made in Maine from, I presume, Maine potatoes; and Vermont Gold Vodka, distilled from maple sap.
Four of six tasters were able to bisect the contestants into two basic flavor categories: Glacier and the Goose both had a mineral, antiseptic flavor, with a sharper nose, while Cold River and Vermont Gold both had gentler, more floral characteristics. The Vermont Gold had a distinctly sweet flavor, and smelled a little more like rum than the rest.
After tasting, we agreed that Glacier would be the best choice for a sweet (as opposed to dry) martini on the couch at home, whereas we’d order Cold River if we wanted strong vodka flavor to come through in a citrusy cocktail or a dry olive martini out at a bar. We’d use the Vermont Gold as an interesting substitute for light rum in, say, a mojito, and we’d save the sterile-tasting Grey Goose for that last-minute vodka tonic one needs before a trip to the dentist.
In the end, we voted (we tested the vodkas straight-up). The results were duck, duck, duck, goose:
1. Teton Glacier and Vermont Gold, TIE
2. Cold River
3. Grey Goose
Watch out, Frenchie. Someone else might take your seat in the (admittedly very snooty) circle.
Recipe 2: Vodka Tonic with Pernod and Pomegranate
I’m no cocktail genius, but this is delicious and different: combine 6 ounces tonic water, 2 ounces vodka, 2 ounces pomegranate juice (such as POM), and a splash of Pernod. Mix well and pour over ice in a large tumbler. OR make your favorite vodka tonic and add pomegranate juice and Pernod to taste.