Martha Stewart Knows Nothing About Vodka
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My nightmare experience with vodka occurred about three weeks ago, and it was completely the fault of that falsely perfect yuppie-utopia guru, Martha Stewart. It seems that Martha now gives drink recipes and alcohol advice, as the recent surge of super-premium vodkas has made cocktail drinking sheik again. On a program discussing vodka drinks, she said that the quality of the vodka didn’t matter as it would be masked by the non-alcoholic ingredients. Well, my mother took Martha for her word and bought a bottle of Fleischmann’s vodka to make herself some fine gimlets. What’d she get for her $8? She got a horrid lime drink, and I myself got a severe headache the next morning after only 4-5 ounces of the stuff. A good product for a great price? In their dreams…
Background: The Story of Vodka
Until its commercial rebirth, vodka has the horrible connotation of being a drink for people who "didn't know better". This was due to the low quality of the available products, many of which were inadequately filtered and full of impurities.
Originally created as a fermented potato brew, vodka has been seen as an alcoholic symbol for Eastern Europe for generations, as stereotypes still abound of hairy Russian men drinking it like water. This is frighteningly untrue, as vodka has always also been the alcoholic beverage of choice of the Russian nobility. Within the last 3-4 years, however, the spirit has had a resurgence of popularity, making an even bigger commercial comeback than Cher. Premium and super-premium vodkas are being unveiled at the rate of one a month, and many of them display the incredible delicacy that this drink can have. Each country now wants into the act, looking to its own vodka as a source of national pride, as vodka quality is still an important aspect of many European cultures.
Even though we're late starters in the game, America has some strong representation, Skyy and Teton Glacier to name two. And then there are the black sheep of the vodka family, those brands that completely abandon quality for the allure of low pricing, and that's where products like Everclear and Fleischmann’s fit in, the drinks of choice for bag people* and those who don't know any better.
When you open a bottle of Fleischmann’s, the predominant notes in the nose are those of rubbing alcohol and gasoline, the scent is both strong and offensive. The viscosity is that of water, and the clarity of the spirit is that of very hard water, there’s a bit of dinginess to it. As for packaging, this is of course no frills, something to hide under the sink or in the back of the pantry,
Distilled from grain, as opposed to potato, the start of the vodka in the mouth can be described as pins and needles, a strong but vague burning in the mouth and on the tongue. There are no real flavor notes, just the burn of the vodka and the inherent taste of pure alcohol, something along the lines of an Everclear. The finish is brutal, tearing open your lungs with the overpowering strength of battery acid, followed by a horrid mineral aftertaste. Just a nightmare really…
Serving Notes: How to Minimize the Nausea
For those foolish enough to buy a bottle of Fleischmann’s, you will soon be looking for nonhazardous ways to use the vodka. The key word here is mask, your goal should be to overpower the poor taste of the product with strong mixers. Here is my best suggestion:
Caconti’s Bloody Madonna
Tomato juice and spice kills the vodka in this recipe.
6 oz Clamato juice
1 ½ oz Fleischmann’s Royal Vodka
2 dashes Tabasco Sauce
1 drop Worcestershire sauce
Shake all ingredients well and then serve over ice. Garnish with celery for a classic look.
Price & Availability—Information and a digression
As a low cost offering in the vodka category, Fleischmann’s is usually easy to find at any level package store, one the bottom shelf as a general rule. How cheap is it exactly? At around $8 a bottle it’s the cheapest thing you’re going to find besides “generic” vodkas. But, please try to remember that alcohol follows a basic and intuitive rule: You get what you pay for. If you skimp on the bill to save a buck or two, you’ll pay for it while your drinking or the morning after, so be forewarned…
The Final Verdict
Simply put, the bargain basement pricetag does not compensate for the horrific taste and body of this vodka. It’s a bad choice at any price, so just stay away…
*This is not a judgement against bag people. I am sure that the majority of them would know better than to buy Fleischmann’s if their economic conditions improved.
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