Charbay Vodka

Who cares about vodka? If it’s not the most boring spirit on earth, it’s damn close anyway. Since most of them are designed to be clean and flavorless, I’ve never honestly seen much point to drinking it, except maybe in a bloody mary, or straight from the freezer, in a shot glass and downed quickly.

My wife, Jen, used to be primarily a vodka girl, especially on the rocks with tonic water, which I think is probably the dullest drink around. After we hooked up, I started coaxing her in gin’s direction, and she’s pretty much thrown over vodka for good.

But the wife and I are hosting a cocktail party next month, and we know we’ll have vodka drinkers, so we need to stock up. During our regular trip to LeNell’s, we asked LeNell for vodka recommendations, explaining that although we weren’t vodkaholics ourselves, we knew there were more flavorful versions available now, and could she recommend some?

I mentioned in my MixMo post that we tried the pastis from Domaine Charbay, in California. Susan Karakasevic, a cofounder of Charbay, posted a kind and thoughtful comment, thanking us for sampling her family’s pastis.

With her warm words in mind, Jen and I were inclined to pick up a bottle of Charbay’s clear vodka, thinking it might be a good introduction to the brand. LeNell agreed, telling us it’s a tasty vodka–viscous and not overly refined, so that it retains sweetness, character, and flavor.

We took a bottle home and sampled it in a vodka martini. Now, I usually hate vodka martinis–I might as well drink icewater for all the flavor I taste–so I was a little hesitant. But I wanted to do right by the Charbay, so I mixed up two martinis with a splash of dry vermouth, stirred over ice. I wanted to get the pure flavor of the drink without the dilution that shaking brings. Jen wanted a lemon twist, and I wanted an olive, so I garnished accordingly and took the drinks out back.

I have to say, these were delicious drinks. LeNell’s description was right on target–a hint of sweetness and viscosity, a slight burn, and a clean finish. Although Jen preferred her twist and I, my olive, we both sampled the other’s drink and agreed that either one works well. And as we learned this morning, it’s good in a bloody mary, too.

We’ve definitely found our vodka for the party.

3 thoughts on “Charbay Vodka

  1. Dear Michael, Leah Greenstein, who wrote the article about pomegranates in the SF Chronicle last week, sent me a link to your blog (forgive me if that’s not the write term, I know for a fact I’m behind in the world of technology!). Thanks for the great write-ups on Charbay! I’m thinking since you mention LeNell that you are in Aspen?? Which is too bad, we could have met last weekend at the Food & Wine event last weekend… Maybe you’ll come visit us here in Napa Valley?
    Best wishes to you and your wife, and be on the lookout for the Pomegranate August or September – we won’t dissapoint!

    Jenni Olson
    CA Sales Manager
    jenni@charbay.com
    http://www.charbay.com

  2. Michael – some more vodkas to sample

    Hangar One
    Modern Spirits
    Tito’s Homemade (believe it or not)
    Heart of the Hudson

  3. Pingback: The Pegu Blog

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