Vodka is a Slavic word that means “little water.” My ancestors hail from what is now Lithuania and Russia, so I think I’m genetically hardwired to like it. Whether on the rocks, in a cocktail, or neat (with one particular brand), vodka is my go to clear liquor.
Some people don’t like vodka. That is their prerogative. For an excellent defense of vodka and a discussion about those who have a near pathological hatred of it, I recommend the following column from Carrie Allan -- Vodka, The Disraeli of Spirits
My current favorite to use in cocktails is Zyr. Its sharp but not too sharp taste augments and enhances the other ingredients. It is also quite good on the rocks.
Thanks to Bo, my favorite bartender at the Russian Vodka Room, a great watering hole to which I go every time I’m in New York City, I learned about Faberge Imperial Collection. It is so smooth you can drink it at room temperature. Seriously. I didn’t believe Bo when she made that claim, but she was right. Faberge Imperial Collection can be tough to find. Keep in mind there are two versions – a normal bottle that retails for around $60, and a jeweled bottle that retails for far more than $1,000. I went for the first one.
If you like flavor infused vodkas, I highly recommend the selection at the Russian Vodka Room in New York City (the horseradish puts hair on your chest, and the apple pomegranate is delightful) Mari Vanna in Washington, D.C. (the honey oat was a particular favorite for me and my wife), Russia House in Herndon, Virginia (try the butterscotch, which isn't as sweet as you would think), and Russian House (over 70 different flavors) in Austin, Texas.