Saturday, March 2

Infused Book Review: Vodka Distilled by Tony Abou-Ganim

Spirits expert and author of "The Modern Mixologist," Tony Abou-Ganim, pairs up once again with Mary Elizabeth Faulkner to produce an intensive guide for vodka lovers and novices alike. "Vodka Distilled" gives an in-depth look at the world’s oldest distilled spirit.

History, comparisons, and detailed instructions on distilling processes bring the enthusiast up to speed. Ordering vodka properly is made easier with an increase in knowledge base of grains, national styles and flavor properties.

Abou-Gamin wills the reader to know – and care – enough to delve into the quality and choice of vodka used in their drink, whether served in a cocktail, on the rocks, or neat. The guide contains a section depicting 58 vodkas complete with tasting notes, drink suggestions and cost divided by main ingredient: Rye, Wheat, Potato, Mixed Grains, Corn and Others.

Like a peppery taste? Try the rye vodka created by Belvedere out of Zyrardow, Poland. The four-time distilled vodka’s spicy and vegetable nose, along with its acidity, makes it the perfect pour for a Bloody Mary.
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Are vanilla and caramel more to your liking? Corn vodka by Rain Organics of Frankfort, KY, is your new vodka option for those salted chocolate caramel martinis.

In the mood for a straight up martini garnished with blue cheese stuffed olives? Order the potato vodka Blue Ice – with its earthy nose and citrus palate, you will feel sophisticated with knowing your liquor.

Recipes for classic cocktails like Mudslide, Cosmopolitan and Harvey Wallbanger are given, along with expert advice on the best vodka for maximum drinking pleasure.

Glassware is taken seriously – as it should be – by the charismatic mixologist. The proper barware can definitely enhance the drink’s flavor, as can choice of ice. Tidbits such as this can be found throughout this bible of Russia’s favorite drink.

It is possible to learn more about vodka in the time it takes to read this book than in your entire over-21 life. No longer will you overlook or under appreciate the clear liquid. It will become your go-to guide from here after.

I predict that vodka will follow the path of wine, beer, and now bourbon, in being recognized as a spirit worthy of snobs, but still enthusiast friendly.

Bottom Line: "Vodka Distilled" shakes, stirs and mixes the spirit’s history, varieties and brands with classic and modern recipes in an enjoyable, reader-friendly style and should be in the hands of every bartender – home or professional.

Elizabeth J. Musgrave is a syndicated fine-living, travel columnist, freelance writer and photographer, and performing arts and restaurant critic for Gotta Go. Read Infused, her spirits, wine & beer lifestyle column, at and and catch her as Indy’s Entertainment Adviser on 93 WIBC. Gotta Go is published on,, an in print. Follow her on Twitter @GottaGo, LinkedIn and Facebook. 

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