I was at Popatop the other day purchasing my weekly $5 fifth of Heaven Hill. The cashier made a snooty comment about how he only drinks Grey Goose. Now, I've tasted Grey Goose and Stoli and Ketel One and they're all great. That's what I order when I'm at a bar. But I'm a working man. When I come home from a hard day at the office I need a little mental massage in the form of a cheap well-made dirty Vodkatini. I’m going to let you in on a little secret about vodka. The less you taste, the better it is. Most high-end US and European vodka brands brag about their filtration processes and how many times it has been distilled. This must not be confused with Russian vodkas which adhere to different standards. They value the slight impurities as they give each vodka a distinctive flavor. But in America, we drink vodka because it can be filtered down so pure that it almost tastes like water; just like we do with our beers. So, in true American fashion, I’m going to show you how to turn cheap vodka into platinum.
I learned this a few years ago from a show on G4 of all places. They were pouring vodka down a contraption made from stacking 5 Brita water filter pitchers one on top of the other. Each one had a hole cut in the bottom so the vodka could flow down into the next filter. The point of the experiment was that running vodka through a simple charcoal filter is the same thing that top shelf vodka makers do to make their brand taste better.
So here’s the drill- Go to your favorite local liquor store. Buy a bottle of the cheapest vodka they have (Heaven Hill, Quality House, Aristocrat, etc...). Take it home and run it through a Brita (or any other water filtering pitcher) water pitcher about 5 times. If you do this, the result will be an intoxicating odorless tasteless liquid that will lower your inhibitions, impair your ability to drive an automobile, and make you consider cheating on your wife.
Here’s a practical scenario- you’re hosting a Christmas party and you’re on a budget. You don’t want to spend $300 on alcohol, so you get a few half-gallons of Quality House vodka and you do the filter-thingy. Now you have a decent starter for your guests’ drinks. But you don’t want to bore them with the lame story about how you just bought cheap liquor and ran it through a filter. Presentation is key! Why not spice it up with some flavor? Save some old liquor bottles and peel the labels off and fill each of them with an equal amount of your “filtered” booze. Now, to each bottle, add a different fruit or spice. Here’s some suggestions: lemon, apple, strawberry, peach, mango, cucumber, chili, mint, ginger, garlic, and lavender (it is assumed that all of these ingredients will be fresh, and not dried or frozen). So, say you’ve got five bottles of your filtered vodka, and you add a different ingredient to each of them. Let them steep for a week before serving. And once you are ready to serve, strain out the solid fruits/spices, then pour the vodka back into the original bottles. If you really want to go all out, make original labels for each bottle. If you’ve got Photoshop and a bubblejet printer, go to Office Depot and get a box of label paper. Print your personalized vodka labels and stick them on the bottles for the party. I did this one year with Coffee Liqueur. I made a batch of homemade Kahlua with real vanilla beans, coffee and sugar in the raw…Mmmmm. I called it “Javaliq.” I bottled it in old Grolsch Amber Beer bottles with the “swing top cap.”
People. This is merely an anecdote. Not an antidote. You CAN turn Heaven Hill into Grey Goose. This is true. But what I want you to learn from this, is that every aspect of life has a “cheat code.” Everything you think you can’t afford IS available to you. All you have to do is a little bit of research and put in some elbow grease. No one is going to hand you the answers to all your problems. You gotta dig for it. I’ve been digging for a long time and I hope it inspires some of you to do the same.