Author T.J. Foderaro gave Van Gogh Vodka much praise in the September issue of Jersey Magazine. His ideas about flavored vodka were changed by the Cocktail Guru, Jonathon Pogash, a celebrity mixologist who creates cocktails for Van Gogh.
“…the ever-increasing variety of flavored vodkas represents fresh opportunities to invent. Thus, when Van Gogh, a Netherlands-based distillery, introduced its “Cool Peach” vodka in 2011, Pogash developed the Minty Peach Martini, combining the vodka with fresh lime juice, agave nectar, sparkling wine and mint leaves.
Van Gogh was among the first to introduce the acai berry as a flavoring ingredient in vodka. Pogash’s inspiration: the Acai-Blueberry Cooler, a delightfully refreshing drink that’s also easy to make. He mixes the vodka with homemade lemonade and fresh raspberries, shakes the ingredients with ice and tops it off with a splash of club soda.
Aware of my skepticism about flavored vodkas, Pogash and his colleagues at Van Gogh invited me to do a tasting at which they first poured small amounts of the straight spirits, then incorporated them into a range of cocktails. I have to admit, the results were pleasantly surprising.
While some vodka makers take a subtle approach to flavoring, Van Gogh’s master distiller, Tim Vos, believes bolder is better. “When you sip a flavor from Van Gogh, you should be able to know it with your eyes closed—know by smell and taste what flavor you are drinking,” he says. “It should be obvious and natural.”
The flavors were more than obvious when Pogash poured me small tastings of Van Gogh Citroen, Cool Peach, Raspberry, Acai-Blueberry and Dutch Chocolate. The fruit essences were pure and natural-tasting, with a touch of sweetness, while the chocolate was rich but not cloying. And most flavored vodka is a relatively light 70 proof, or 35 percent alcohol, versus 80 proof for regular vodka. That’s why flavored vodka is easy to enjoy straight or with a few ice cubes. Among professional mixologists, there are purists who turn up their noses at flavored vodka. It’s somehow not sophisticated enough. But Pogash says they’re missing an opportunity to punch up the flavor of a drink without adding too much weight or alcohol.
A case in point is Pogash’s Cinnamon Raspberry Cooler, which combines two ounces of Van Gogh Raspberry Vodka, three-quarters of an ounce of Monin cinnamon syrup and three-quarters of an ounce of fresh lemon juice. You simply shake the ingredients with ice, strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish by floating a fresh raspberry in the drink. It’s lovely to look at, very refreshing and easy to make. “That’s a three-ingredient drink,” Pogash says proudly…”