Infused Vodka, Vim & Vigor
Jessica said, "I think vim is the more mental/emotional form of vigor, so I say yes."
Gwenda said, "I think it involves martinis."
Jessica replied, "Given the nature of vim, perhaps it should be some sort of aromatini. Vimaromatini."
I like martinis. I really like Vespers, which is a martini made with Lillet instead of vermouth. Now I can't actually drink a lot of martinis, because frankly I have no tolerance for alcohol. In fact, my lack of tolerance is probably why I like martinis. When I was in college, and we'd go out drinking, if I had more than two drinks I really wanted to go home and go to sleep. But it's hard to make two drinks last several hours. Especially when the bar is too loud to talk. So I got in the habit of ordering brandy, and then whiskey, because they didn't taste good. So they'd take me a long time to finish. Except, not surprisingly, I came to like the taste of alcohol. And to this day I prefer drinks that aren't sweet.
Since Bob and I are not really drinkers, we are very enamored of the accouterments of martinis. Bob, especially is a lover of ritual and exactitude, which makes him the perfect bartender. Therefore, he was more than game when I said that we had to invent a martini.
I don't dislike the long list of things that people call martinis these days. I actually like Cosmos (I think it's the cranberry which takes the edge off the sweet.) But really, they aren't a martini. A martini is liquor cut by an aperitif style wine. So for me, a Manhattan (whiskey and sweet vermouth) qualifies as a kind of martini. A Blueberry Martini (2 oz Cranberry vodka, 2 oz triple sec, 2 oz blueberry juice, 2 oz Sprite) does not.
How then, to make an aromatic martini?
Infused vodka. Infused vodka is actually a pretty old-fashioned thing. A lot of Russian vodka is still homebrew, and there's a long tradition of putting stuff in it to make it palatable. Pepper vodka. Citron vodka. Now it's trendy, of course, and in a liquor store you can buy raspberry , peach, pepper, cranberry, green apple, lemon, clementine, vanilla, chili pepper, cinnamon, coffee, chocolate, rose, buffalo grass, and that favorite of dieters, acai. But we wanted 'aromatic vodka.' I had heard, somewhere, about infusing vodka and I have rosemary growing in my garden, so I did a search on 'rosemary infused vodka and found a site call Infusions of Grandeur. The blog hasn't been updated since 2008, which is sad (although probably a good thing for the blog owners' livers) but it is still a font of information if you want to infuse vodka.
After much discussion, we decided on three infusions (of which two, the lemon grass--clear with chopped bits of lemongrass in it--and ginger--cloudy with grated ginger--are pictured above.) We are doing ginger, lemongrass, and pear. Why pear? Because fruit infusions are supposedly the easiest to do and if the ginger and the lemongrass suck, at least we'll have the pear. We used Smirnoff for the base vodka (Smirnoff consistently does as well as expensive vodkas in blind tastings but costs less.)
Gwenda lives too far away for an easy taste test, but Jessica will be invited for the attempt to make a Vimaromatini.
To celebrate the beginning of the experiment, Bob made martinis. His is the classic Gordon's gin and dry vermouth. Mine is vodka and Lillet. I have had a couple of sips and I am feeling it already, so if people are interested, I will post more later, when we taste. Now, I'm going to go do something brainless.