Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Van Gogh's Magic Spirits Garden

"I've been to a lot of wine tastings," says Tim Vos, who distills some of the world's most-famous vodkas, "but at vodka tastings, no one spits it out the way they do with wines." Uh, good point, Tim. I look at my plastic cup. No, not a trace of vodka there.

We are at a luncheon tasting of Van Gogh's flavored vodkas and Van Gogh Blue, its smooth-as-satin non-flavored vodka, at 100 Acres restaurant on MacDougal Street in lower Manhattan. Tim hasn't yet yet figured out how to make a flavored vodka out of the color blue, but give him time, as he's been able to extract flavors from about everything else as the Dutch connection in shaping the extremely successful Van Gogh product line.

The idea of the luncheon is to show writers how VG Blue has been blended from a variety of European wheats, how some of the most-famous Van Gogh flavor blends taste in the glass and how well they go into cocktails sipped with food.

For example, 100 Acres mixologist Miljan Milosevic serves us two Blue cocktails with Marc Meyers' hand-shucked sea scallops, a VG pineapple and a VG coconut cocktail with chicken breast with fennel and red grapefruit and a VG double espresso cocktail and a VG Dutch caramel cocktail with a dessert tray.

Do I smell mocha in the caramel, I ask Van Gogh CEO and super marketer Norm Bonchick. "You have a very good palate," he says, and a healthy ego as well as I also note the finishing touch of vanilla in the double X.

"We've about run out of fruits to use as flavors," Bonchick says, "so we've started thinking about flowers," detailing some distillerations with a rose-petal blend. Apparently, there has been no serious consideration of a Van Gogh sunflower vodka, which might sell well on the drinks list at The Modern.

Me, I especially adore the double X, and its Red Bullish shot of caffeine does nothing to keep me awake as I board Amtrak and am quietly shuttled out of New York for points south with visions of starry, starry nights bouncing through my sleepy head.

Until next time...

Roger Morris

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