I’ve never been a vodka drinker. And that’s for reasons that are rational rather than moral. Try a little bit of heroin, and you’re going to want to try a lot of heroin. And so I’ve always believed that if I tried something as pure and unadulterated as vodka, the next thing you know I’d be walking around with an I.V. hooked up to a bottle of Absolut and a vodka drip punched directly into my vein. That sort of thing might be socially acceptable in a place like Reykjavik, but not around these parts. So I never drank vodka. That is, until last week.
I was invited to a Sundance party for an AMC production called “Welcome to Hollywood.” I’m still confused about what exactly “Welcome to Hollywood” is. But the party was sponsored by vodka producer Ketel One. Upon entering the shindig, which was held in a swanky suite at The Canyons, attendees were met by Ketel One henchmen, instructed to swear allegiance to Ketel One, forsake Absolut and Smirnoff, and then taken swiftly into a dark room where the Ketel One logo was tattooed onto their asses. Resisters were taken out back, savagely beaten and thrown into Canyons snow banks. Don’t get me wrong though, it’s not like being kidnapped, held hostage and forced to drink vodka by the Ketel One Mafia isn’t fun.
Upon my release from the Ketel One tattoo parlor, I looked around the party and spotted an acquaintance standing next to the bar. Dave Engen is the moneyman for Western Edge Distributors, Utah’s Ketel One cartel. “I’ve never drunk vodka in my life,” I said to Dave. “Tell me the name of a drink to order.”
“Do you want a foo-foo drink or something more respectable?” Engen asked.
“Foo-foo,” I said.
“Ask for a Cosmopolitan,” he instructed.
Eight or nine Cosmopolitans later, I realized I was beginning to like vodka. That’s when Tracy—the Hanoi Hannah of the Western Edge cartel—pounced. “Have you tried a Sour Apple Martini yet?” she asked. One sip of a Sour Apple Martini and I was a goner. I now have a favorite drink. And it’s a vodka drink. The bastards.
The Ketel One story begins in 1691 when Dutchman Joannes Nolet founded a vodka distillery in Schiedam, Holland. The name Ketel One comes from the Distilleerketel #1 that was built in 1864 and which remains in operation today. More than three centuries and 10 generations later, Ketel One Vodka is still a family-run business. At the Nolet Distillery, the techniques and recipes for Ketel One are handed down from generation to generation.
In a head-to-head taste test, vodkas like Absolut and others tasted alcoholic to me, even medicinal. By comparison, Ketel One Vodka has a smooth, clear, clean taste and is good straight. The “potstill” method used for distilling Ketel One is similar to that used for making single-malt Scotch and Cognac, yielding only small, high-quality batches. The first and last 100 gallons of each Ketel One batch is discarded as too harsh or too weak, leaving the premium “core.”
In addition to Ketel One, Nolet also makes Ketel One Citroen, which is naturally flavored citrus vodka. It’s perfect for making Cosmopolitan and Lemon Drop cocktails. As for me, I’ll stick to the pure stuff—the Ketel One vodka that goes into those delicious Sour Apple Martinis. Damn they’re good! Like heroin.
Through February Ketel One and Ketel One Citroen are discounted $3 in Utah, $18.95 for a 750-ml. bottle.