Russian Cocktail - Lessons on Vodka

By Chris Patino

The Russian Cocktail was re-discovered by David Wondrich and is believed to be the first vodka cocktail ever shown in print. Originally featured in the St. Charles Hotel in New Orleans, the recipe can be found in a book called Beverage Deluxe from 1911.

Recipe

Ingredients

1 1/2 oz vodka

3/4 oz Cherry Heering

1/4 oz Kirschwasser

Instructions

Shake with ice.

Strain into a cocktail glass.

Comments
mdoudoroff 29 Mar 2011
11:58 am

Interesting. Kind of.  But Absolut is pretty darn neutral, so this drink winds up basically being a stretched cordial.

I’m embarrassingly ignorant on the history of vodka, but it cannot have begun as something so neutral and pure as your run-of-the-mill contemporary vodka (e.g., Absolut). Before the continuous still, vodka must have been something closer to white dog: more flavor from the grain (and no doubt, more congeners from impurities). Did vodka instantly transform into pure neutral spirits diluted with water immediately post-Coffey? Or was it a long slow decline in character? I wonder what the vodka tasted like that went into the original Russian?

What I do know is that I just executed this drink substituting a pleasant, high quality, contemporary white dog (not a commercial bottling) for the Absolut, and unsurprisingly, the drink has a lot more going for it. And, whaddayaknow, it’s EVEN BETTER with a dash of Peychaud’s, which not only has an affinity for Heering, but makes the drink into a true cocktail!

Well, it’s not a Russian Cocktail any more, but I’m half-Russian, so I’ll call it the Doudoroff Cocktail. (smirk)

Doudoroff Cocktail
1 1/2 oz white dog
3/4 oz Cherry Heering
1/4 oz Kirsch
1 dash Peychaud’s bitters
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Garnish with a Luxardo marasca cherry.

Note: a twist is not really desirable for this drink if your kirsch is any good: a fine kirsch supplies lovely aromatics.

blair frodelius 30 Mar 2011
4:57 am

Martin,

I have to agree that early vodkas would have had more character than most of today’s multiple distilled versions.  I think to get a true version of an early Russian vodka, you would probably have to make the white dog out of barley or perhaps winter or spring wheat.  As well, I figure these early vodkas were about 100 proof which would lend them a richer quality.

Great idea to add Peychaud’s!  After all, it’s a NOLA drink.

Cheers!

Blair Frodelius
Goodspiritsnews(dot)wordpress(dot)com

Tomek Roehr 30 Mar 2011
10:17 am

One of these could be what you might be looking for. These guys sure know their stuff. A small family distillery. (For full disclosure - I’m in no way affiliated with them just think they do a great job) -
http://www.facebook.com/pages/ZKozuba-i-Synowie/131482746882070#!/photo.php?fbid=198116143552063&set=a.131490023548009.14721.131482746882070&theater;

Dennis Schafer 5 Apr 2011
10:41 am

Most likely the vodka used in the original Russian was similar to what we have today.  The Coffey patented his continuous still in 1831, 80 years prior to the recording of this cocktail.

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