For your next date night, an international adventure awaits—and it’s heavy with intrigue and ambiguous motives. But rather than clocking a thousand miles and infiltrating hostile environments in disguise to reach your objective, we suggest simply drawing the shades, dressing to the nines, and carrying out an exhaustive investigation of our Red Vodka Box right in the comfort of your own home. Follow these steps carefully, and a night of thrills with a trio of sophisticated cocktails is yours for the taking.
When we first saw Red Sparrow in theaters, we were drawn to its sultry brand of espionage set in Russia and Budapest. It felt like the perfect subject matter and locale to pair with provocative vodka drinks that feature sweet and savory elements—each served with a twist that will betray your expectations. Now with the home release of the film (on Digital 5/15 & Blu-ray 5/22) and our three audacious takes on vodka, you can shake and stir your way to your own high-stakes night of fun. Just keep your wits about you at all times and watch your back because, much like revenge, these drinks are best served ice cold. Subscribe now through May 31st to get yours! It’ll ship the week of June 4th.
The Crimson Beet-rayal from Russell Davis could not be simpler on the surface as it combines vodka with cool, crisp tonic water. But it’s in the finishing details that this drink undergoes a total transformation right before your eyes. First, a sprig of rosemary lends a pleasing herbal fragrance to every sip. Next, Russell turns to a favorite of Russia and Eastern Europe—the powerful pickled beet. The double-dealing drink gets topped with a beet wedge for aroma (and snacking purposes) and, in the show-stopping climax, drizzled with the potent, earthy beet brine for a finale that tastes fresh and tangy yet sweet.
Russell has been a mixologist for nearly a decade, working in every type of bar imaginable and having appeared eighteen times on Spike TV’s Bar Rescue. Academia—a downtown Austin bar focusing on curated cocktails and small bites—is his consulting company Unlimited Liabilities’s latest project. He was named Nightclub & Bar’s 2012 Bartender of the Year and serves as the CCO (Chief Cocktail Officer) of Shaker & Spoon.
Your inaugural mission when mixing April Wachtel’s delicious, fruit-driven Fallen Ballerina cocktail will be an extraction of flavor by way of infusing your vodka with ginger peach black tea. This introduces a backbone of tannins and an underlying peach flavor to the typically more neutral spirit, pitting the pull of subtle dryness head to head against the push of thirst-quenching refreshment from the other ingredients to come. After all, even the most majestic and refined in appearance can have a lot lurking under the surface. The bright flavors of lemon juice and raspberry-honey oleo saccharum syrup give a commanding performance center stage and a finishing dose of bubbles connects all of the elements, sending it all gracefully swirling to life.
April is a cocktail and spirits educator, experienced mixologist, and founder of cocktail mixer company Swig + Swallow. She is a twenty-two-year veteran in the beverage and hospitality industries, having worked in every role from busser and bartender to beverage director and brand ambassador.
Rely on Seth Weinberg as your guide down a top-secret path leading to one of the cocktail world’s most famous landmarks—the martini. The grouping of fleur de sel (known as “the caviar of salts”) solution, rosemary-lemon oleo saccharum syrup, and wormwood bitters delivers a well-balanced salinity along with the subtle flavors of citrus and absinthe. This lends his Dirty Little Secret the perfect combination of ingredients to unlock that familiar bite of refreshing vodka and may inspire thoughts of a cool, bracing Vesper, as well. But of course this is a dirty affair, and for that we turn to the olive. In place of the typical addition of brine, this distinguished take on a classic spotlights three pimento-stuffed olives on top and a fair shake of olive bitters within.
Seth is the lead bartender at the iconic Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach. He has worked at Missouri, Mississippi, and now Miami bars, constantly creating cocktails inspired by his surroundings or drinks inspired by history and his vintage whiskey and spirit collection.
For some behind-the-scenes tidbits from Seth on his work, his inspirations, and his cocktail, check out our interview.
Spoiler alert: our Red Vodka Box features cunning and creative drinks to perfectly complement an exhilarating date night at home. Your mission is rather simple—boundless enjoyment!
The Shaker & Spoon Team
*not vegan: raspberry-honey oleo saccharum syrup