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  • Writer's pictureDane

Drinks with Dane | Week 9

It's finally getting chilly here and it's got holiday cocktails on my mind!


Hello Friends! 

We’re going to ease into the festive season with this cranberry mule. This week's buying guide is Vodka, just the thing to go right along with our weekly cocktail.

Vodka is a neutral spirit that is often and traditionally filtered through charcoal. It originated around the 8th or 9th century in Poland or Russia (depending on who you believe.) The word Vodka translates to ‘Little Water’ in both Russian and Polish (водка/ wódka).

From there it spread into the “Vodka Belt” countries of eastern Europe and Scandinavia. Vodka can be made out of any base material, however, there are some traditional base ingredients that are now associated or part of an PGI (Protected Geographical Indication).

Recently there has been a trend among some to promote vodka with residual flavor of the base ingredients, a small sampling of different based vodkas will quickly show you some of the differences in the grain.

Thank you for your support and please tag me @drinkswithdane on Instagram or #DrinksWithDane so I can raise a glass with you!


Vodka Buying Guide

  • Wheat and Barley Base - Highly acidic, and lighter in body

  • Rye or Rye Blends - Spicier characteristic, robust in flavor

  • Potato - Full-bodied, creamy to almost oily on the palate

  • Corn - Delicate and sweet

Russian Standard – Winter Wheat – This truly is the Russian Standard; made to Tsar Alexander’s standard for vodka since 1894. Often regarded as one of the smoothest, most neutral vodkas on the market. Proofed down with glacier spring water and filtered through charcoal, silver, and quartz. $15

Tito’s Handmade Vodka – Corn – Located in Austin, Texas, Tito’s is a 100% American yellow corn vodka. Tito’s claim to fame is their use of pot stills, distilling the vodka six times. It’s been the go-to vodka for bartenders for many years now. $16

Wheatley Vodka – Wheat –  Made at the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky. Made in small batches using Wheatley’s one-of-a-kind micro-still and a unique recipe that mixes wheat with other grains, this vodka is distilled 10 times then triple filtered and bottled at 82 proof. The flavor is fresh and clean, with a crisp aroma and a touch of soft vanilla in the finish. $20

Hangar One Vodka – Wheat and Viognier Grape – Located in a WWII era airplane hangar in Alameda, CA, Hangar One was an offshoot of St. George Distillery but quickly grew into its own company. The mix of wheat and grape give this vodka a fantastic balance, with a fresh and floral nose and a sweet clean finish. Flavored vodkas from this distillery are high quality and unusual flavors – from Buddha Hands Citron and mandarin blossom to limited editions like Fennel and Honeycomb. $24

Karlsson’s Gold Vodka – Potato – Produced on the Bjäre Peninsula in Skåne, Sweden. This vodka is made with a blend of seven new potato varieties. It is single distilled and unfiltered to preserve as much of the base flavor as possible. This vodka is full bodied and rich, with a distinct mouthfeel. They also produce single varietal, single estate grown, vintage year editions that are all about the terroir of Swedish potatoes. $30

Belvedere Smogóry Forest – Rye – A single estate expression from a tiny village in rural Western Poland surrounded by a vast forest. This Vodka is 100% Diamond Dankowskie Rye. Aroma of sea air and toasted rye bread on the nose. On the palate, it is rich and mellow with notes of salted caramel and honey coated cereal. Toasted bread and trademark rye pepper notes finish off this vodka. $35

Belvedere Lake Bartezak – Rye – Comes from Poland’s northern lake district, a region renowned for crystal-clear glacial lakes and long winters. The snowy, cold waters stress the Diamond Dankowskie Rye making for a refined and delicate vodka. Bright and fragrant on the nose with notes of fresh cut rye and grass. Medium body with notes of mint and hay on the palate. Finishes crisp and clean. $35

Nikka Coffey Still Vodka – Corn and Barley – This is the legendary Japanese whisky house's foray into the world of vodka. With demand for Japanese Whisky outpacing existing supplies in barrels, the choice to expand into clear spirits was a smart one. Coffey stills have been used at the Nikka Whisky Distilling Company’s Miyagikyo Distillery in Sendai, Japan since 1963, when they were brought over from Scotland. Nikka distills its corn and barley separately before mixing the distillates and putting the blend through a minimal white-birch filtration, which produces a very light and delicate vodka. $39

Boyd & Blair Potato Vodka – Potato – A small batch vodka made from locally grown Pennsylvania potatoes. A smooth and flavorful vodka with distinctive oily full bodied potato taste. $42

Barr Hill Vodka – Honey – Distilled from raw Vermont honey, this vodka has a distinctive nose. It’s floral with balanced sweetness and a hint of salinity. The palate will notice great body and texture and creamy vanilla that finishes long. 2020 American Distilling Institute Gold and Best of Category Winner. $47


Cocktail of the Week: Yule Mule

A seasonal cross between a Cosmopolitan and a Classic Moscow Mule, this week's cocktail is kicky from all of the featured ingredients: lime, ginger, and vodka.  Despite the kick, it's easy to drink because of the balance of spicy, sweet, and tart and you don't need a party to make a pitcher of this disappear in a flash. Serve it in a frosty cold highball glass to enjoy the cheery punch of red as you clink glasses this holiday season.


What You’ll Need:

  • Vodka

  • Quality Ginger Beer (Bundaberg, Fever Tree, Q)

  • Fresh Cranberries

  • Limes

  • Sugar 

  • Mint and Candied Ginger for Garnish

  • Fine Mesh Strainer


Cranberry Lime Syrup

The Day Before: Zest 3-4 limes into a small container, add one cup of white sugar and cover. Leave to infuse for 24 hours. 

The Day Of: In a medium pot, on medium low temperature, add one cup of water and two cups of fresh cranberries. Bring to a simmer and add the lime zest infused sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Simmer for 10 minutes or until the cranberries start to burst. Turn off heat and let everything infuse for 15 minutes. Strain though a fine mesh strainer. Keep refrigerated, it will keep for up to two weeks.


Yule Mule Cocktail

serves 1

1 ½ oz Vodka (I used Belvedere Lake Bartezak)

1 oz Cranberry Lime Syrup

½ oz Lime Juice

4 oz Ginger Beer (Bundaberg, Fever Tree, or Q)

In a Collins glass or copper mule mug, fill with cubed or cracked ice. Add all ingredients and stir to incorporate. Garnish and enjoy. Salute!

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