While I was thrilled that People's Revolution invited me to attend a Kanon Organic Vodka tasting, I'd be a dirty-rotten liar if I said that I wasn't apprehensive/anxious. "Please god, don't let me throw up," I said to myself on repeat as I made my way from the Canal Street subway station to the Grand Bar & Lounge. When it comes to taking shots - or sometimes just a sip or smell - of hard-alcohol, I'm a gagger who ultimately morphs in to a puker/ralpher/heaver/yacker.
Upon my arrival to the Grand Bar & Lounge, a handsome young host directed my attention towards the back corner of the space, where I was warmly greeted by Stefanie, the US Director of Marketing and Mixology for Gripsholm Distillery. "Have a seat and make yourself comfortable," she said, "I'm going to prepare your tasting!" I may have appeared eager with excitement and anticipation but, in reality, I was on the verge of a panic attack.
I could feel the cold beads of sweat - and shear terror - slowly roll down my back as I saw Stefanie approaching my table. "Wow," I gasped, as she presented me with an artistically-arranged beverage tray. "This is gorgeous!"
"OK, so I'm going to tell you a little bit about the vodka and then you can taste it!" Stefanie said. "Kanon is distilled in Sweden from locally grown, organic wheat in a continuous process without the use of environmentally harmful or genetically modified additives. While many brands believe that re-distilling creates better vodka, Kanon’s unique organic process enables such purity that multiple distilling and/or charcoal filtering is not needed. The use of fresh spring water delivers a unique and distinctive finesse naturally, without that typical 'vodka burn.' Instead of tasting the alcohol immediately, your palate won't be kissed by our vodka until you swallow. It's then that you will subtly taste, and feel the delicate warming sensation, of Kanon..." And right then, at that very moment, she had me at hello "without that typical vodka burn." Hearing that simple, 5-word phrase was the perfect confidence kick-in-the-ass that I needed.
The first concoction that I sampled was the 'Deconstructed Mojito.' In the picture below, you will see a a mini wine-like glass containing a single mint leaf and a bushel of pink cotton candy. I was instructed to pour the contents of the shot-glass (vodka, lime juice, mint-tea) over these ingredients, and watch as the bubble gum-colored pink puff disintegrated to a virtual powder at the bottom of the glass. And with that, I took my first sip. As I slowly allowed the beverage to make its way down my throat, I braced myself for the inevitable 'typical vodka burn.' Nothing. I took another sip, only this time, I swallowed a bit faster. Again, nothing. "This (cocktail) is incredible, Stefanie," I squealed, before finishing every last drop of my 'Deconstructed Mojito.'
My next and most favorite sample was the 'Reverse Mojito.' Served atop a shiny silver spoon was a brownish, gelatinous glob that was dusted with what appeared to be white sugar. I assumed that the accompanying lime wedge served as a garnish. "Whoa," I shrieked, as my eyes became wider, "is this like some kind of a high-class jello shot, or something?" Stefanie giggled, "Squeeze the juice from the lime wedge over the spoon. The citrus makes the sugar sizzle. Try it!" Instead of swallowing the gelatin whole, as I did on so many occasions in college so as not to taste the Everclear, I delicately took a bite. This unleashed an intense bouquet of flavors ranging from tart and tangy, to sweet and tranquil; yet void of the dreaded 'typical vodka burn.' I was tempted to ask for a second "serving."
Luckily for you, dear readers, Stefanie was kind enough to give me the recipes for each of her delicious Kanon Organic Vodka creations (posted below). Enjoy!
Makes about 24 servings
- 1.5 small packets (1oz. size contains 4 packets) of Knox Unflavored Gelatin
- 1/2 cup cold, freshly-squeezed lime juice and
- 1/4 cup of sugar
- 1/4 cup of boiling mint tea
- 1 cup Kanon Organic Vodka
In a bowl, add gelatin packets, lime juice, and sugar. Stir. Add boiling mint-tea and vodka. Stir to dissolve. Pour in to a 12"x12" square pan and cover. *Note: The level of the gelatin should should measure about 1.5" in depth. Place mixture into the freezer for approximately 30-minutes.
Once firm, slice into 1x1" squares.
- 2 oz. Kanon Organic Vodka
- 2 oz. fresh mint tea (cooled to room temperature and/or chilled)
- 1/4 oz. lime juice
- Club soda
- Cotton candy
- 4 fresh mint leaves
In a pitcher, combine the first 3 ingredients. Shake/stir well. Evenly pour beverage in to 4 shot glasses, about 2/3 of the way full. Top each with a splash of club soda. Separately, fill four cocktail glasses each with a small handful of cotton candy and a fresh mint leaf.
For each guest, serve one shot glass and one cocktail glass side by side, instructing them to pour the shot over top of the cotton candy (in the cocktail glass). The sugar from the candy melts into the drink, sweetening your mojito from the outside in.