DIY Cocktail Hour: Gold Dust Woman Martini

Tito’s Handmade Vodka started something with its notion of taking the distilling of vodka as a serious art in this country. It has been my workhorse vodka for years and will remain one of my favorites unless they change the recipe or start making prissy flavors like “angel food cake” or “cool whhip.”

There are now a plethora of artesinal vodkas that are organic, distilled over charcoal in artesinal springs with dancing nymphs and Romans eating grapes. With Portland 88, Crater Lake and House of Spirits Volstead Vodka, the Portland area certainly has more than its fair share of purified and crystalline vodkas. But this week when I went to Austin on vacation, I wanted to see how the locals stacked up.

dripping_springs

At the liquor store down the street from the ranch that was my vacation home– yep, you got it, a ranch. (No cows but a salt water pool and about a billion stars at night). I found several Austin craft distilled vodkas. I went with Dripping Springs because it had received some convincing accolades. The label doesn’t do it justice. It is a ten times filtered vodka from the water of an artesinal spring. Beautifully alcoholic and clear it has the resonance of crystal. Don’t let the label fool you, it’s not fake crystal. This can’t go through the dishwasher.

With the elegance and decadence of the vodka as a starting point, I created the following cocktail:

Gold Dust Woman

Gold Dust Woman

Gold Dust Woman:

Ingredients
5 oz Dripping Springs Vodka
1 1/2 oz mango pulp
1/2 oz Headsnapper Sauvignon Blanc

Directions
Fill martini glass with sparkling water and ice cubes
Fill shaker with ice
Add vodka, mango pulp and sauvignon blanc
Shake, shake shake until the shaker is frosty and sticks to your hand
Empty martini glass, rinse with 1/2 oz of sauvignon blanc
Partially rim with white sugar
Strain drink into glass 7 oz glass (It’s Texas, it has to be big)
Garnish with giant, freshly picked Texas strawberry

To Pick On: (Cuz Gold Dust Women Don’t Really EAT)
Tex-Mex Strawberry Salad

2 Shredded romaine hearts
1 cup juillienned jicama
1/2 cup sliced strawberries
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup black beans
1/2 cup tortilla strips

Dressing
1 small fresh red chili pepper, seeded and minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsps agave syrup
1/3 cup pack fresh chopped mint
1/2 cup squeezed lime juice
1 tbsp liquid coconut oil
1/3 cup EVOO
2 tbsps white wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Dress salad in bowl, chill if desired and dish up into four dishes.

Best Use: Chillin’ by the pool waiting for your toenails to dry, sparkled gold over violet

Reading Materials:
 Maya’s Notebook, Isabelle Allende

Soundtrack: Duh, Gold Dust Woman… this version

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Portland Distiller’s Row

New Deal Vodka Line

(c) New Deal Distillery

The craft distillery scene in Portland is so massive that it even has its own guild, started with seed money from the state of Oregon. For me, having come from a Pennsylvania, a state (er, Commonwealth), with  punitive liquor laws, to see Portland’s magical guild of micro-distilleries and state-funded togetherness threw me for a loop. Really? The state is helping someone sell booze and treating the distilling process as an art? Not the liquor control board I know.

Oregon isn’t the only state with guilds for artisinal distillers, but they certainly appear to be the best organized and most articulate about their mission–to bring their craft liquor to as many people as possible. Their branding is hip, well-considered and well-placed, which gives them a craft edge with the brand credibility of a major.

What strikes me as uniquely Portland about the distillers and their guild is their willingness to work as a collective of companies even though they have potentially competing products. The global liquor conglomerates don’t usually do this. They tend to have one line each of whiskey, vodka, gin, tequila and maybe a few bourbons or different price point lines of one spirit.

It’s an industry with cutthroat competition at its very core (think of the fact that the prohibition era incubated organized crime as we know it). However, this ragtag group of distillers all just want to get along, bonding over their passion for the craft. OK, it might not be as touchy-feely as all that. In working together, the distillers hope to get bulk buying power, more visibility and the ability to reach a broader customer base.

This is a smart move. The aforementioned global conglomerates all have ginormous operating and marketing budgets and can take out consecutive ads on the back of Rolling Stone (not cheap).In reality, as individual brands, these micro-distillers (or at least the best of them) may as well roll over to Beam Global now and all of the craft will go out of the relationship.

This brave new world of spirits leaves me with a challenge. I have to try them all! How? It will be a job of work but I will muscle through it.