For those of you who missed yesterday’s Kansas City Star, here’s a list of some worthy cocktails and spirits reads. For those of you who did see it, read on—there are a few extra bits that didn’t make it into the printed version.
The King of Vodka—Linda Himelstein recounts Pyotr Smirnov’s rise from serfdom to dominate Russia’s vodka industry. How it became one of the world’s best-selling premium spirits brands is riveting tale. And it turns out that moonshine and efforts at prohibition were rampant in Russia long before the Americans thought of them. Which brings me to Samogon. The Russian word means “home distilled,” and there was undoubtedly a lot of it around in Smirnov’s time. Here in Kansas City, we get something better—a new premium spirit that might remind you of grappa, or perhaps pisco, but that is entirely its own thing. See what bartenders like Arturo Vera-Felicie are doing with it, or check out Jason Burton’s review in the latest Tastebud.
Boozehound—Jason Wilson’s romp through the spirits world in search of intense, complex flavors. My favorite of his finds: Cocchi Barolo Chinato, a lush, bitter Barolo-based digestif. Look for it at Michael Smith and the Rieger Hotel Grill & Exchange, as well as retailers including Gomer’s Midtown and Cellar Rat. It’s also at Grünauer, where the KCBA’s Brandon Cummins graciously treated me to a glass last Friday. Continue Reading