Welcome to Imbibe Magazine's between-issues look at liquid culture with drink recipes, news and more. From coffee to cocktails, Imbibe celebrates your world in a glass.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Who We Gonna Call?

The vodka category is one of the most crowded spirits categories, so it can take a lot to stand out from the pack. With its skull-shaped bottle and actor Dan Aykroyd as its brand ambassador, Crystal Head does stand out, but not just for those reasons. It’s a crisp, smooth vodka with some interesting nuances, and yesterday, we had the chance to taste the spirit with Aykroyd, who stopped by the Imbibe office during a promotional tour across the U.S. and Canada.

Portland bartender Dave Shenaut also came over to mix some cocktails with Crystal Head, and Aykroyd was right at home, having bartended before his days on SNL. “Cocktails have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, so it’s been a lot of fun taking the vodka on the road,” he says. “Bars are the stars of the show now and we’ve met some really great people.”

First launched in 2008, the vodka is made from a blend of grains and water from Newfoundland, Canada with no additives. The result is a smooth spirit with a touch of creaminess and a hint of spice, and as Shenaut showed, it makes a solid base for a range of cocktails. Shenaut combined the vodka in six different cocktails using everything from crème de peche to Chartreuse to chamomile liqueur. But the favorite of the day was the Daisy Days, which combines Crystal Head with fresh strawberries, agave nectar, lime juice and a sparkling rosé.

While it’s become a trend to shun vodka in craft cocktails, vodka remains the spirit of choice for a lot of people, and many bartenders can creatively combine vodka with other ingredients to delicious results. The key is to start with a good vodka.

Aykroyd is continuing his tour with events down the West Coast. If you’re in Sacramento, he’ll doing a signing at Bevmo on Wednesday, and then he heads down to So Cal for events in San Diego and Van Nuys at the end of October. Check crystalheadvodka.com for times and locations, and in the meantime, try out the Daisy Days yourself.

The Daisy Days
2 fresh strawberries
Dash agave nectar
1 1/2 oz. Crystal Head vodka
1/2 oz. fresh lime juice
Brut rosé sparkling wine
Ice cubes
Tools: muddler, shaker, strainer
Glass: flute
Garnish: fresh strawberry slice

In the bottom of a shaker muddle strawberries with agave nectar. Add vodka, lime juice and ice cubes. Shake and strain into a flute, top with sparkling rosé.