Longingly watching for budding flowers and robin redbreasts, dusting off one’s galoshes, savoring an extra minute or two of sunlight as the days lengthen—these are all things we find ourselves doing in the anticipation-filled days leading up to spring. As these and other preparations for better days ahead kick off in earnest, one bottle that starts looking mighty fine on the shelf is vodka, a spirit as pure and bursting with potential as the soon-to-be-showered landscape.
Despite an enduring popularity, vodka’s character can be a tricky thing to nail down. Ask ten people what it tastes like and you might receive twenty different answers. But if the answer you get back is “nothing,” consider it not a ding but a commendation: distillers strive for pristine clarity with their vodkas, typically distilling and filtering it several times to achieve the utmost in texture and taste, or lack thereof.
For cocktail lovers, this neutrality is fertile ground for the imagination, a medium where the passed-down “rules” of more flavor-forward spirits don’t apply and creativity and execution are paramount. Is vodka versatile to a fault with the personality of a sponge? We think not! It’s a brilliant blank canvas, and when your ingredients are high quality and your technique’s on point, your inspiration, and libations, will flow freely.
And so we welcome spring and the rebirth of creativity with the Steeped in Vodka 2 Box, our tribute to this versatile spirit. In this sequel we bring back a not-so-secret weapon that makes the spirit’s vigorous voice truly sing: tea! Whether by infusion, syrup, or bitters, a spot of tea graces these three vibrant vodka cocktails (a much-beloved re-release and two fresh faces) with earthy citrus or floral notes for a daring but quite darling springtime soiree. Subscribe now through April 5th to get this box—it’s slated to begin to ship that same week!
It happens to be the scientific name for grapefruit, but we also like to think there’s something about the words Citrus Paradisi that evoke the good vibes of a garden party bathed in golden sunshine or shimmering moonlight. Kellie Thorn’s effervescent fan-favorite cocktail is back, taking a citrus green tea and pairing it with grapefruit to play off the botanical and slightly bitter qualities of aromatic tonic water. Fresh lime and rose water provide an added boost of refreshing flavor to a tall vodka cocktail that you’ll want to bring along as a plus-one to your springtime oasis.
Kellie has been a veteran of the restaurant industry since the early 2000s and bartending for nearly two decades. In 2010, she joined forces with star chef Hugh Acheson to open Empire State South, and her success in the role soon led to her being named beverage director for all of Acheson’s restaurants. In 2017 she was awarded the Les Dames D’Escoffier International Legacy Award, and in 2018 she was named one of Wine Enthusiast’s 40 Under 40 Tastemakers.
And now for some Forbidden Fruit, a perfect example of heavenly excellence that hearkens back to the olden days of its creator. Growing up, Chelsea Santos recalls her grandmother making a standout style of ambrosia with almond jello and tropical fruits. This flavor combination tempted back then with its sweet medley of mellow notes—and, now adapted as an elegant and alluring cocktail with a luscious texture courtesy of egg white, it certainly is ripe to do so again. Commingling in this rose sugar–rimmed coupe is a lychee orgeat enriched with citrusy Earl Grey tea and complemented by floral chamomile, and, to dry out the richness while enhancing the flavors, a team of sturdy vodka and sprightly rose lemonade. Give in and relish this perennial nectar of the gods!
Chelsea Santos is an award-winning bartender and a creative at heart, whether she’s behind a bar or a camera. She has worked in the service industry for more than a decade and has developed bar programs for nationally acclaimed boutique hotels. She has a deep appreciation for tropical flavors, and her favorite thing to do is to take unexpected ingredients and make them into something cohesive and delicious.
Sother Teague presents a tea-infused old fashioned with enough robust flavor to bring even the mightiest of mythological serpents to the point of misty-eyedness. Dragon Tears begins by imbuing vodka with oolong (“black dragon” in Chinese), and the adventure takes flight from there. Adding to this floral and woody transformation for vodka, there’s more magic afoot from a bright bitters blend of chai and lemon and a pepper cake syrup that features a shelf’s worth of warm spices with a hint of white peppercorn. Follow the instructions carefully for a fiery aromatic finish . . . With a cocktail like this, you, too, will be crying tears of joy!
Sother is the beverage director at New York’s Amor y Amargo and host of The Speakeasy on Heritage Radio Network. In 2018, he was honored with Wine Enthusiast’s Mixologist of the Year award. He is the author of I’m Just Here For The Drinks and Let’s Get Blitzen.
The tea leaves read that Steeped in Vodka 2 is just the ticket to ease you out of hibernation. So put the “clean” in spring cleaning with crisp, pure vodka in these boldly creative cocktails!
The Shaker & Spoon Team
*not vegan: nothing
*potential allergens: lychee orgeat contains almonds