A report published last year said adults living in Washington, D.C., abuse alcohol more than any other place in the country, largely because alcohol and work are so closely related here. That’s me today.
FishbowlDC sent me to what was understood to be a type of mixology event put on by Belvedere Vodka today. It turned out to be a lesson in how rye became the dominant grain that led to the creation of whiskey and vodka. And also me bordering on sh*tfaced by 1:30 p.m. Happy Thursday.
The event was hosted at Jack Rose, which ironically is a whiskey bar, in Adams Morgan. It featured Belvedere’s aptly named Head of Spirit Creation Claire Smith who led the lesson on rye and walked attendants through the several types of liquor placed in front of us.
First I tried Founder Red’s Rye beer, as beer was the first form of liquidated rye. Then a Sazerac whiskey, the purpose of which was to compare to the Belvedere vodka. And then caviar, “because I can do that,” Smith said.
I’ve never tried Caviar but it’s exactly what I expected it to be like: fish eggs popping in my mouth as I chew.
Back to the alcohol. I sipped the first sample of regular Belvedere Vodka. Smith said we should feel “the warmth from it.” And I did. Actually, I felt hot.
Next was Belvedere Intense, a stronger, spicier taste. “When I drink the Intense vodka I imagine myself as a Mad Men extra. One of the ladies standing there,” said Smith, obviously a saleswoman at heart.
Then I had something I’m not entirely sure was legal: vodka that had been aged for 30 days, not even sold on the market.
That did it for the samples laid out before us. Then came mixed drinks. First a chocolate rye beer in a shot glass that we were supposed to chase with vodka. Sorry, couldn’t do it.
Next was a White Manhattan, which is essentially a Manhattan cocktail, but made with vodka instead of whiskey. Also, very strong. But good enough.
My favorite was served last: a simple vodka soda. Though it was pink grapefruit-flavored vodka.
When all was said and done, I asked Smith, for the sake of making this experience relevant to journalism (in the loosest sense), how she stays abreast of current events. Her reply: Facebook. She doesn’t like watching FNC or CNN because she gets “super depressed” at “how these people portray the news.” She said she’s in the business of making people feel happy, so she’d rather spend her time online looking at puppies.
Smith did say, however, she likes celebrity news. Which celebrity would she like to make a drink for?
“Chelsea Handler is a great friend and advocate of Belvedere,” Smith said, “and if i was going to make Chelsea anything I would probably make her Belveder unfiltered on the rocks; quick to the point crowd-pleaser. No one’s going to be upset with that type of drink and I know that she likes a good quality vodka on the rocks. So no messing with Chelsea.”
Other things I learned:
- Bartenders have an ABV attitude: Anything But Vodka. For some reason, vodka is the least sexiest thing in the liquor world.
- Rye is the “Harry Potter of the grain world,” said Smith, because it’s put under the ground and flourishes after it’s been under pressure from the outdoor elements.
- “Molecules are homosexual,” again, according to Smith, as she talked about mixology on the molecular level.