Tag Archives: vodka

Evening of Decadence at the Speakeasy Cocktail Festival


Pinstripes and pearls. Feathers and fedoras. Blackjack and burlesque. The 1920s came roaring back Saturday at the second Speakeasy Cocktail Festival.

The event was a celebration of the style and sips of the Prohibition era. Revelers enjoyed 1920s inspired cocktails, and tastes of rum, vodka, tequila, cognac and beyond.

Opera in Midtown provided the perfect location to see and be seen – or not. Guests could take in performances from three floors, or sneak off to side rooms for drinks or cigars.

For those who were feeling lucky, the casino offered poker, blackjack, roulette and craps.

With sensual performances and all the classic and creative cocktails you could imagine, the Speakeasy Cocktail festival was a true evening of decadence.

Proceeds from the event will benefit the Health Education & Communication Center of Atlanta. Click here to read about the organizations supported.

A Look Inside Czar Ice Bar

Has the summer in Atlanta got you searching for someplace cool? Check out the Czar Ice Bar, a new hot spot in Buckhead’s East Andrews Entertainment District.

Czar Ice Bar has the feel of a Russian oligarch’s living room, complete with framed portraits, long couches and chandeliers.

No winter coats are necessary to enter. The “ice bar” is exactly that — a long glowing slab of ice that makes up the bar.

Czar Ice Bar is a vodka fan’s paradise. On the menu and behind the bar are hundreds of vodkas from around the world. Order a flight to taste a few, or try one of the specialty martinis.

The Czar Martini is a take on the classic martini with Imperia 8 times distilled and 6 times filtered vodka, a hint of Dolin dry vermouth and blue cheese stuffed olives. If you’re looking for something more adventurous try the 7even-7even-0h, made with Russian Standard vodka, Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur, St. Germaine elderflower liqueur and fresh grapefruit juice. There is even a tribute to Georgia – the Sweet Georgia Peach Martini is made with 360 Georgia Peach vodka, Southern Comfort, fresh orange juice and Cherry Herring liquor.

For big spenders there is the Swarovski Czar Martini, a $400 martini. HDW CLIX 159 times distilled vodka is gently stirred with a hint of Dolin dry vermouth and served with caviar stuffed olives in a take home Swarovski crystal martini glass.

If anything – or anyone – can compete with the massive list of vodkas, it is master sushi chef Saito Saito. His ornate rolls are arranged artfully on the plate. Try the Rock and Roll (eel, avocado, red and green caviar, red pepper, scallions and barbecue sauce), or the Red Square (spicy tuna, asparagus and spicy sweet chili sauce).

If you prefer your sushi a little less showy, try the Mixed Fish Ceviche. Tuna, salmon and white tuna are topped with spicy peppers, scallions, cilantro, onion and a light and tangy citrus dressing.

Czar Ice Bar is open for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday, from 11am to 2:30am.

Czar Ice Bar, 56 East Andrews Drive Northwest # 10, Atlanta 30305.
(404) 869-1132

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It’s Time for Wine: Spirits for the New Year

Plus the Donum Estate

By Monty and Sara Preiser

Before moving to spirits we wanted to be one of the first to report new ownership at what we consider to be one of the top Pinot Noir producing houses in California – The Donum Estate. Investors from Denmark have purchased Donum, including the main portion of the land, the two brands (Donum and Robert Stemmler), and the inventory.  According to President Anne Moller-Racke, “This is a very positive move as it will give us further financial strength to replant our vineyards and go to the next level. Everyone will stay in place, [as the new owners] want us to continue what we have started and make it even better.  I am very excited.” We are too.

Tasting On the Great Cunard Liners

While the unsurpassed luxury of cruising (like everything else – when done properly) is the subject of another column, here we will share our journey with the ship’s sommeliers through a tasting of Vodka, Scotch and Martinis. Cunard is dedicated to providing the finest of spirits for its passengers, as well as imparting serious educational information surrounding tasting sessions. And this time of year (cold to cool in most of the country) seems to be perfect for pre-dinner cocktails.


Vodka can be made from anything organic that will ferment. Our tasting included the following:

Jean Marc X.O., a premium filtered vodka from the Cognac region of France. It is made of 4 wheat grains, each selected for its specific flavor, while the spring water used is filtered through Grand Champagne limestone. The concoction is distilled NINE times over several weeks in very small batches, and the finished product was included in the 2006 book, 101 Things to Buy Before You Die.” Our blind tasting next to Grey Goose proved this spirit’s incredible quality. Rating: A

Chopin, the only real luxury potato vodka in the world, proves one does not have to use grains to produce the finest of spirits. It is “composed” of, as mentioned, potatoes as the starch source instead of wheat, rye or barley. This Polish favorite is smooth and viscous. Rating: A-

Zubrowka (zoo-BROOF-kah) is another Polish entry that translates to “bison grass vodka” and was traditionally consumed by Polish royalty. Our favorite is distilled by Dolmos Bialystok from rye and bison grass lending a pale tinge and nuances of honey and herbs. It is distinguishable from some other brands by the long blade of green grass in the bottle. This has rapidly become one of our favorite vodkas when it can be found.  Rating: A+

U’Luvka is recognized by its distinctive swan neck bottle and its symbol is said to represent the male and female energies. Made from wheat, barley and rye in Western Poland, it has a buttery texture, citrus notes, and a long, smooth finish. Rating: B+

Stolichnaya Elite, the Russian vodka regarded by many as the best in the world (as evidenced by scores of international awards). It is seen as elite because of its multiple filtering for purity. This is far superior to the usual Stolys ordered by most of us in the States. Rating: A

A hint to drinking vodka: It should always be served ice cold but rarely, if ever, over ice.

Single Malt Whisky (Scotch):

Single (from one distillery) Malt (from one “malted” grain) Scotch (from barley only) is whisky made in Scotland that is matured in oak casks for at least three years (most single malts are matured longer).

Auchentoshan 3 Wood is aged three times. First in old Bourbon casks, then in Oloroso Sherry casks, and finally in Pedro Jimenez Sherry casks (hence the name – 3 Wood). Great flavors and a new favorite. From the lowlands. Rating: A

Dalwhinnie 15 Year Old is from the highlands and evidences honey and heather before the enjoyable aroma of peat. This one has a long finish. Rating: B+

Glenlivit 12 Year Old is from the oldest distillery (legal, anyway) in Scotland, which may explain its extraordinary popularity in the U.S. The citrus and sweetness are representative of the Speyside region. Rating: B

Isle of Jura 16 Year Old boasts a sweet and spicy flavor profile, as well as some burned caramel and yeast. This western island whisky has become a Scotch of choice in Japan, but would not be on our list of recommendations. Rating: C+

Laphroaig (laf-royg) 10 Year Old is our new favorite. From a very small Island, Islay (eye-luh), it is briny with significant peat influence, and reminds us of smoked Gouda. Everyone won’t love this one, but it is different and bold. Rating: A+

A hint to enjoying Scotch: Most single malts are designed to be enjoyed “neat” (without ice). Yet they are also best when the flavors are released by the addition of a “wee dram” of water before consuming.


Today almost any combination of spirits served in the well known large V-shaped glass seems to qualify as a Martini – even old time classics such as Sidecars. The evolution of the Martini is a fascinating subject, especially the very recent concept of “Molecular Mixology.” This new area of sub specialization is fast catching on among bartenders who are learning to change the texture, density, viscosity, and/or molecular structure of a liquid through the interactions of spirits, juices, and other beverages.

Below are a few cocktails/martinis we have enjoyed in the past few months. We think that if you like our taste in wine, you might find these to be great starters.

The Classic Dry Martini is about 9 parts gin to vermouth (a wet Martini is 3 to 1). For extra dry you might want to coat the glass with vermouth and drain, and for ultra dry use 2 drops. A dirty martini has a touch of olive juice, while a dirty-dirty martini might see olives smashed and drained into the glass.

The G’Infusion uses 1.5 oz. of Gvine Gin (French and grape based instead of the usual juniper) plus 1 oz. of a sweet raspberry liquor like Chambord and 1 oz. sour lemon juice to soften.

The Ginger Cosmo is a variation on the New Age Classic Cosmopolitan adored primarily by women. But adding the ginger should draw men as well (it did Monty). Start by muddling fresh ginger, then add 1/2 oz. of citrus vodka, 1 oz. of a good orange liquor like Cointreau, a splash of cranberry juice, a squeezed lime wedge, shake, and strain.

The Bronx is an oldie that Playboy (where Monty found the recipe while reading all the articles) predicted no bartender presently working would know. And so far the magazine has not only proven correct, but the mixing and consuming of this drink has proven to be an “event” everywhere we have described it because it is so good. In a shaker full of ice pour 1 oz. each of gin and fresh orange juice. Add ½ oz. each of sweet and dry vermouth. Shake, strain, and garnish with a slice or wheel of an orange.

The Sidecar is about 100 years old but we bet you haven’t had one. And it may be the best of them all. Shake 2 oz. of Cognac, 1 oz. of fresh lemon juice, and 1 oz. of good orange liquor with ice. Strain and serve (though this one is also tasty on the rocks).

A hint to enjoying Martinis: Just as James Bond liked his, the best way to experience most of these drinks is to have them served as cold and as smooth as possible, something that can be accomplished only by shaking – which when properly done will leave small shards of ice on the top.

We wish you a happy new year and please consume responsibly!


It’s Time for Wine is a column published by wine writers and educators Monty and Sara Preiser that is featured on the Amateur Gastronomer.

Monty and Sara Preiser reside full time in Palm Beach County, Florida, and spend their summers visiting wineries and studying wines on the west coast where they have a home in Napa. For many years they were the wine columnists for The Boca Raton News, have served as contributors to the South Florida Business Journal, and are now the principal wine writers for Sallys-Place.com.  Monty and Sara also publish The Preiser Key to Napa Valley, the most comprehensive guide to wineries and restaurants in the Napa Valley, published every March, July, and November. In fall 2011 the Preisers released the first issue of The Preiser Key to Sonoma. Click here to read more columns by the Preisers.

Summer Cocktails from RA Sushi

Beat the heat with a trio of summer sips from RA Sushi.

For a limited time, the Midtown Atlanta restaurant will serve three cocktails that are reminiscent of warm weather treats and beach vacations. The Orange Dreamsicle, Coconut Mojito and Key Lime Martini will be available from from July 1st through August 15th and will cost $8 each.

Enjoy the cocktails next month with your favorite sushi roll or make them at home now with these recipes provided by RA Sushi:

Orange Dreamsicle

1½ oz. Pinnacle Whipped Vodka
2 oz. orange juice
1 oz. lemon-lime soda
1 oz. soda
¼ oz. cream of coconut
Squeeze 1 lemon slice
Orange slice and whipped cream for garnish

Preparation: Combine with ice and shake all ingredients except for soda. Pour into iced glass and top with soda, garnish with an orange slice and whipped cream.

Coconut Mojito

1 oz. Ciroc Coconut Vodka
½ oz. coconut rum
1 oz. pineapple juice
¼ oz. cream of coconut
Splash of soda
Squeeze of half a lime
6 mint leaves
Sprig of mint and lime wedge for garnish

Preparation: Muddle mint leaves. Combine with ice and shake all ingredients, except for soda. Pour into iced glass and top with splash of soda. Garnish with a mint sprig and lime wedge.

Key Lime Martini

1 oz. Ciroc Coconut Vodka
1 oz. Pinnacle Whipped Vodka
½ oz. pineapple juice
¼ oz. cream of coconut
Squeeze of half a lime
Crushed graham cracker, whipped cream, and lime slice for garnish

Preparation: Combine all ingredients with ice, shake and strain into chilled martini glass rimmed with crushed graham cracker. Top with whipped cream and a slice of lime.

RA Sushi, 1080 Peachtree Street Northeast, Atlanta 30309. (404) 267-0114