Food & Drink

Making the Martini – Shake It, Don’t Stir!

Although many television and movie characters have ordered the martini in the past three decades, none is as memorable as the suave and sophisticated super spy that orders his martini shaken – but not stirred. However, the drink was popular long before the memorable secret agent began ordering the cocktail. Here are a few things you probably didn’t know about the vodka-based martini and how to create a great vodka martini recipe.

vodka martini recipe


Creating Vodka

The history of vodka is in dispute, but it was created either in Poland or Russia and sometime between the 900s and the 15th century. Although many people believe popular vodkas are potato-based, the ancient beverage has always been distilled with rye or wheat when the grains are available. The popular Absolut vodka is made from a special crop of winter wheat that is known for its hardness and combined with a uniquely special well water to create the drink base favored by millions. This is ideal for any vodka martini recipe.

Calling Names

If you want to order a bottle of vodka in Russia, you may find yourself confused when the clerk asks you what you want because there are many names of the almost tasteless popular drink base. The popular liquid is referred to as “the bitter stuff,” “hot water,” “daughter,” and “the bubble.” Some people also call the alcohol “the white stuff,” the “quarter bottle,” and the “mono-polka.”

Drinking Martinis

No one knows when the martini was created. The cocktail can be found listed on drink menus from the 1860s when it was called the Martinez Special and became a popular drink among thirsty miners during the gold rush. Hemingway knew and loved the cocktail, calling it “civilized.” Other possibilities in the creation story can be found in New York, San Francisco, and Sweden, and although the origin of the bracingly sweet drink may never be known, that doesn’t deter from the drink’s popularity. During the 1960s, business was conducted over a martini lunch, the cocktail was served during office meetings by cosmopolitan executives, and men and women drank the popular concoction during their evening hours.

vodka martini recipe

Altered Versions

As with most drinks, people often love to make a unique version of the beverage that they can call their own, and perhaps that is why the shaken and stirred adaptation of the martini came to be. If you want to try your hand at the classic vodka martini recipe, check out If you want to try some of the other types of this secret agent drink, try the “dirty martini” which includes olive brine, or the “Gibson” that uses cocktail onions instead of olives. A martini with a “twist” is served with lemon, and you can even find a chocolate, lime, or espresso martini if you want to be adventurous.

No matter when you decide to enjoy a martini, make sure you pair the drink with some of your favorite foods and take time to relax as you enjoy the cocktail. You may also be interested to know that shaking or stirring the mixture is simply a matter of preference, whether you are a secret spy or a working mom. If you are ordering the drink at your favorite pub, restaurant, or bar, don’t forget to include some a hamburger and some salty fries.

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Food & Drink

Thirsty Thursday: Prairie Organic Gin, Vodka, & Cucumber Vodka

Prairie Spirits 3

Do you like your spirits artisanal? Organic? Slowly made by hand by family farmers that actually care? Made in the USA?? Prairie may be the world’s most meticulously crafted spirit that just so happens to let you check single thing off of that list. From those who care what goes in, to those who care what goes down.

Prairie’s single vintage organic corn is distilled to taste, not a prescribed number of times. That’s because climate, soil, and moisture levels give each small batch its own unique character. Preserving that character takes personal attention, giving our spirits an award-winning taste that can stand on its own.

Prairie Spirits 2

Three family farmers on the Minnesota prairie own the land and the quiet respect of all around them. Each family works in their field up to three times longer than conventional farmers, all to cultivate the nutrient-rich soil and organic corn that will become Prairie spirits.

Prairie Spirits Recipes

Here are two of my favorite Prairie Organic Spirits Cocktails

Prairie Game Day

  • 1 ½ oz Prairie Cucumber-Flavored Organic Vodka
  • 2 oz tonic water
  • ½ oz cucumber juice
  • ½ oz fresh lime juice
  • 1 oz simple syrup
  • Fresh mint leaves
  • Cucumber slices

Combine ingredients in a shaker and shake to mix. Pour over a glass filled with ice; top with fresh mint leaves and cucumber slices (optional). 

Bonfire Tallgrass Tea

  • 1 ½ oz Prairie Organic Vodka
  • 4 oz green tea
  • 1 Tbsp organic sugar
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

Shake over ice and strain into a sugar-rimmed glass.

Prairie Spirits 1

For more great recipes, be sure to check out!!

The spirits are really good. Crisp, clean, bright, pure. They are pretty much exactly what I am looking for…and the cucumber vodka is so spot on. I can see why the vodka was rated Best New Vodka by Food & Wine magazine in 2009 and given a 92 by Wine Enthusiast magazine! The gin, my personal fav, got in on the accolade act too. How does a Gold Medal in the 2013 San Francisco World Spirits Competition and a Gold Medal in the 2013 SIP Awards get you? It gets me, that’s for sure. This is some good drinking right here.

To find out more about Prairie Vodka, Cucumber Vodka, Gin, and more, please check out:

Guy and the Blog was provided three bottles of Prairie for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own.

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Food & Drink

Thirsty Thursday: UV Vodka


Who doesn’t love vodka? That’s right, no one that you want to know. It’s probably the most popular liquor around. It mixes very well in just about any cocktail formula, but also stands alone when the vodka is of top quality. Like everything else in life, being the best is all in the details. When making the award-winning UV Vodka, no detail is too small. Phillips Distilling Company follows a rigorous procedure to ensure that every bottle meets their high standards. You like flavored vodkas? When it comes to that, only the finest natural ingredients are good enough for UV. I mean, when UV Vodka has been rated as “Superb, Highly Recommended” in Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s buying guide, you can pretty much guarantee that something good is going on.

The hardest part about UV Vodka is deciding which of the MANY flavors you want to pick up! Sangria to Sugar Rush to Salty Caramel Apple, there’s a taste for every palette and every mood. I’m not much of a sweets guy when it comes to drinks, so I went for tired and true original, plus something spicy and something citrusy. I was very pleased with my selections.

UV Vodka Flavored Collage

I enjoyed the following flavors:

Prettyyy, prettyyy, pretty good indeed, people. The flavors were very clean and crisp. Not overpowering. Just about right. You could taste the quality for sure. This is a good drink you would be happy to serve to friends and family at a house party.

Not sure how to mix it up? There are so many recipes, it will make your head spin. Here are some awesome cocktails from this past. St. Patrick’s Day. Yes, it’s no longer St. Pat’s, but who cares?? These drinks are dope. Change the name, follow the directions, enjoy!

Shamrock Shaker UV Vodka

Shamrock Shaker

  • 1 part UV Apple
  • 1 part lime juice
  • 1 part simple syrup
  • Splash of club soda

Directions: Add lime juice, simple syrup and UV Apple into a shaker filled with ice and shake well. Strain and pour into a highball glass, and add a splash of club soda.

Lucky Spritz

  • 1 part UV Vodka
  • 1 part sour mix
  • 1 part lemon-lime soda

Directions: Shake with ice and strain into a lowball glass. 

Leprechaun Punch

  • 1 part UV Sangria
  • 3 parts lemon-lime soda

Directions: Serve in a glass with ice & sliced fruit, or add ingredients to a pitcher or punch bowl.

Like I mentioned, top quality with so many options, you’ll never get bored.

Be Bold. Be Unique. Be UV. To find out more, please check out:

Guy and the Blog was provided 3 bottles of UV Vodka for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own.

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Drink Food & Drink

U.S. Keeps On Drinking…Jameson, Malibu, The Glenlivet, Champagnes All Up

While Pernod Ricard’s 8% net sales growth to €4.61 billion ($6b) in the six months through December was driven largely by an 18% surge in its emerging market business (identical to rival Diageo’s), Pernod’s U.S. net sales also enjoyed a healthy uptick, rising 5% over the period. An exclusive analysis from Impact Databank reveals that Pernod’s high-flying Jameson Irish whiskey brand, along with a revitalized Malibu rum, offset U.S. volume declines for Absolut vodka, Seagram’s gin and Chivas Regal Scotch in calendar 2011.

Jameson’s spectacular rise in the U.S. market continues to be one of the drinks industry’s top stories. The fact that the super-premium ($25) Irish whiskey actually picked up speed during the recession—more than tripling in volume since 2006 and prospering in the on-premise all through the downturn—testifies to its brand cachet among trend-setting spirits consumers.

Malibu’s renewed strength in the U.S. market is a more recent trend. Not long ago, both Malibu and Kahlúa were seen as turnaround projects for Pernod Ricard USA. Kahlúa continues to struggle, slipping below 1 million cases in 2011 for the first time in decades. But Malibu, boosted by playful new ad positioning, returned to volume growth in 2010 and then advanced by nearly 7% last year, breaking the 1.7-million-case threshold for the first time.

Pernod aims to keep Jameson and Malibu consumers engaged by innovating on each with new extensions. Jameson’s Black Barrel ($35) was introduced last fall, while Malibu Red, a rum-Tequila hybrid selling at a premium to the core brand’s $14 a bottle, is slated for an upcoming release. (Malibu Red follows two other variants including higher-alcohol Malibu Black, and a seasonal Malibu Winter offering accented by coconut flakes swirling in the liquid).

The Glenlivet—the leading single malt Scotch brand in the U.S.—continued its steady upward progress last year, rising 6.5%, but work remains to be done in the rest of Pernod’s Scotch stable. Chivas Regal had halted its long-term U.S. slide in 2010 with a modest increase, but last year it slowed again, declining by 1.3%. Chivas has lost nearly 20% of its U.S. volume since 2005. During that time period, archrival Johnnie Walker has grown by around 10% in the U.S. market.

More troubling for Pernod USA may be the halt in progress for its largest brand, Absolut. After a buoyant 2010 in which it added about 150,000 cases in U.S. sales, Absolut, under pressure from proliferating “cheap-chic” vodkas like Svedka, Pinnacle and Sobieski, surrendered 60,000 cases in 2011, with trends deteriorating over the second half of the year. Pernod Ricard CEO Pierre Pringuet said today that the group intends to turn up Absolut’s volume with a new U.S. campaign in March, as well as new extensions Absolut Grapevine and Absolut Miami. But even as the economy suggests it may begin to put some wind behind brands like Absolut, competition in the vodka category appears only to be getting stiffer.

Pernod Ricard USA – Top 10 Distilled Spirit Brands
(thousands of nine-liter cases)
Calendar Year Percent Change
Brand1 2009 2010 2011 2009-2010 2010-2011
Absolut Vodka 4,485 4,630 4,570 3.2% -1.3%
Seagram’s Gin2 2,865 2,670 2,545 -6.8% -4.7%
Malibu Rum3 1,605 1,635 1,745 1.9% 6.7%
Jameson 815 1,035 1,335 27.0% 29.0%
Kahlua Liqueur4 1,030 1,000 985 -2.9% -1.5%
Hiram Walker Cordials 920 890 885 -3.3% -0.6%
Beefeater Gin 515 510 510 -1.0% 0.0%
Chivas Regal 395 400 395 1.3% -1.3%
Fris Vodka 260 360 385 38.5% 6.9%
The Glenlivet 285 310 330 8.8% 6.5%
Total Top 10 13,175 13,440 13,685 2.0% 1.8%
1 includes flavors
2 includes Twisted
3 excludes Cocktails
4 excludes Drinks to Go and Ready to Drink


U.S. wine exports hit a record $1.39 billion in 2011 on an increase of 21.7%, according to the Wine Institute. Volume shipments rose 5.8% to 455.7 million liters, or 50.6 million nine-liter cases. Some 34% of U.S. wine exports by value were shipped to the 27 member countries of the European Union, accounting for $478 million in revenue, up 10% from 2010. Volume shipments to the E.U. reached 28 million cases in 2011, edging up 1.4% from the previous year. Other top markets included Canada (up 23% to $379 million), Hong Kong (up 39% to $163 million), Japan (up 39% to $105 million) and China (up 42% to $62 million).

Champagne shipments to the U.S. enjoyed double-digit growth in 2011, according to the French Federation of Wine and Spirits Exporters (FEVS). The FEVS said Champagne exports to the U.S. market rose 12.2% by volume and 18.6% by value last year. In 2010, Champagne shipments jumped 35% by volume to 1.41 million cases, according to France’s Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC) and Impact Databank.

Source: Shanken News Daily

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Top 25 Spirits Brands Of 2011

The U.S. spirits market’s top 25 brands enjoyed solid overall growth in 2011, advancing by 2.5%—or more than 2 million cases—to 86.9 million cases, according to Impact Databank. However, that progress was almost totally driven by just two brands—Pinnacle and Svedka, which together added 1.8 million cases last year. Both Pinnacle and Svedka retail for around $13-$14 a 750-ml., putting them near the low end of imported vodka’s pricing spectrum. Low-priced domestic players Barton and Skol were also among the growth standouts in the top 25—advancing by 4% and 8%, respectively, and adding further evidence that competitively priced vodka remains the U.S. spirits market’s most dynamic segment.

Growth was sluggish for the market’s biggest brands. The top five—Smirnoff, Bacardi, Captain Morgan, Jack Daniel’s and Absolut—achieved aggregate growth of just 0.6%. Further down the list, there were some promising performances. Hennessy (+2.8%), Ketel One (+5.3%) and Malibu (+5.6%) experienced their biggest growth in at least five years. Meanwhile, Jim Beam’s 3.9% bump was its largest gain since 2000. (That growth didn’t include Beam extension Red Stag, which is estimated to have advanced by around 30% in 2011.)

While the top 25 brands comprise roughly 45% of total U.S. spirits volume, some of the best performers of 2011 didn’t crack the list. Two examples are Diageo’s Cîroc vodka and Pernod Ricard’s Jameson Irish whiskey. After doubling its sales to 685,000 cases in 2010, Cîroc is projected to have doubled again in 2011 as it surged past the million-case mark. Jameson jumped past the million-case threshold in 2010 when it advanced by 27%, and it accelerated its growth in 2011, with sales up 29% during the first half of the year. Both brands are poised to enter the top 25 rankings by year-end.

For a full report on the Top 25 Spirits Brands of 2011, see Impact’s January 1&15 issue.

Source: Shanken News Daily

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Sobieski Is Fastest Vodka Ever To 1 Million Cases In US

Has anyone tried this one?  I like Belvedere, but I don’t think I’ve ever even seen this one?  They are pitching that good Vodka doesn’t have to be expensive.  Interesting, b/c when I do drink vodka, I get the “premium” stuff because I really do think it tastes better. Maybe they are truly breaking the mold.  If so, I’m all in! Plus, Die Hard Bruce is a sponsor and partner…I think that’s better than Diddy, no?

Belvédère SA’s Sobieski vodka brand shipped more than 1 million cases in the U.S. during the 2011 fiscal year, making it the fastest vodka ever to reach that mark, according to Impact Databank. Sobieski, imported by Belvédère’s U.S. subsidiary Imperial Brands, made its U.S. debut in 2007, depleting 50,000 cases that year. By 2010, it depleted 765,000 cases, and had earned Impact “Hot Brand” honors for three straight years. Last year, it depleted 950,000 cases, with shipments topping the million-case mark.

Sobieski has been supported in the U.S. by its ongoing “Truth in Vodka” campaign, featuring celebrity spokesperson and minority stakeholder Bruce Willis (Willis acquired a 3.3% stake in Belvédère in 2010). Priced at around $11 a 750-ml., the brand’s flavor line includes Orange, Karamel, Raspberry, Cytron, Vanilia and the recently launched Espresso, Cynamon and Bizon Grass.

Sobieski could be the fastest spirit brand overall to reach 1 million cases in the U.S., pending the final tally on Beam Inc.’s Skinnygirl, which only launched in 2009. Beam said last summer that Skinnygirl had a chance to reach 1 million cases in 2011 as well, but hasn’t yet released year-end figures for the fast-rising premix cocktail label.

Source: Shanken News Daily

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Pinnacle Vodka – Pushing The Limits Of Non-Booze Tasting Booze

This is pretty interesting.  I didn’t realize that there were so many flavors.  It’s kind of insance, really.  I’m a beer and wine guy, but if I have a drink, it’s typically a gin and tonic.  I really have only had lemon vodka or non-flavored.

After a year that saw its Pinnacle vodka reach new heights on the back of its skyrocketing Whipped flavor extension, White Rock Distilleries is giving Pinnacle a boost with its first TV ads this year.

The campaign has a budget of $7 million. Beginning in February, the new spots will target 21-to-35-year-old females on cable networks including Bravo, Oxygen, E!, InStyle and others.

Pinnacle Whipped became the top-selling flavored vodka in the U.S. in 2011, selling 750,000 cases in its first full year on the market (adding in offshoots Cherry Whipped, Chocolate Whipped, Key Lime Whipped and Orange Whipped, the line sold roughly 1 million cases). As a brand, Pinnacle nearly doubled to 2.7 million cases in 2011, according to Impact Databank. White Rock CEO Paul Coulombe told Shanken News Daily he “expects growth of at least 50%” for Pinnacle in 2012.

Source: Shanken News Daily

Here are the 34 flavors (70 proof), like Baskin Robbin:

Apple, Atomic, Banana, Berry, Blueberry, Butterscotch, Cake, Cherry, Cherry Lemonade, Cherry Whipped, Chocolate, Chocolate Whipped, Citrus, Coconut, Cookie Dough, Cotton Candy, Grape, Gummy, Kiwi-Strawberry, Le Double Espresso, Mango, Marshmallow, Orange, Orange Whipped, Pineapple, Pomegranate, Raspberry, Root Beer, Tropical Punch, Vanilla, Whipped Cream, and Whipped Key Lime…you are sure to find a flavor that suits you.

Or stick with Pinnacle Classic Vodka (80 proof) and enjoy it neat or on the rocks.

What do you think of this?  I’ve never tried it.  Would you consider this premium vodka, like Ketel One, Belvedere, Grey Goose?

From Pinnacle:

Pinnacle is the ideal French vodka – clean, smooth and extremely mixable. Every sip of Pinnacle is inspired by a time honored recipe handed down from generation to generation. Made with a traditional and ancestral recipe, Pinnacle is produced with modern equipment in the Distillerie de la Tour, ensuring the highest quality. Handcrafted in small batches and quadruple distilled with the spring water from the northern region of France, this unique spirit has a smooth, balanced finish that will please any connoisseur.

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