17 November, 2016
Azzurre Spirits Vodka and GinPosted in : Cocktail Recipes, Gin, Spirits, Vodka on by : The Gourmez
Obligatory disclaimer: The Azzurre Spirits I’m about to review for you were provided to me for sampling.
Vodka and gin made with apples, grapes, and sugar cane instead of potato or corn or wheat? Why go against the grain, so to speak? Because Azzurre Spirits founder Dan Pettit found the liquor industry trend toward numerous filtrations and distillations suspect; why start with ingredients that require that much processing to reduce their less appealing qualities? So he decided to make vodka and gin with ingredients that need less manipulation to achieve the end result of smoothness. And thus, Azzurre Spirits was born in 2014.
Are they good? Azzurre Spirits picked up a few brownie points from me right away with that label art—as someone who once dressed up as the Eye of Sauron, suffice it to say I see some similarities. And I’m a sucker for a unique bottle; both the extra-long neck and the glass bottle stoppers upped the ante. But would the spirits hold up to my fast-rising expectations?
I’ll have a vodka first, please.
It has a soft, berry bubblegum nose. Tasting it makes me feel like a Care Bear, riding a cloud in a balmy breeze. The 40% ABV alcohol is indeed gentle on the palate, and I taste faint berry and sweet, vegetal carrot on the finish.
One gin, neat!
My readers know I’m not a natural gin fan, which means Azzurre’s nose of juniper and other evergreens does not fill me with glee, though a sweet spice note intrigues. The pine-fresh scent is muted going down, a plus. The spiciness intensifies, however, to the point I would have guessed this spirit infused with cardamom, black pepper, and allspice. Let’s call it a sportsman’s gin, a lively tongue-tingler that’s a bit too much gin for me to handle.
Azzurre Spirits is unafraid to craft its own path in the industry, which I celebrate. My anti-gin bias makes the vodka an obvious preference for me, and that last note of carrot lingered long enough to inspire me to make a drink that plays with it.
Carrot Cake Cocktail
¼ cup softened cream cheese
1 tablespoon cinnamon sugar
2 ounces Azzurre Vodka
1 ½ ounces Snap gingerbread liqueur
1 ounce simple syrup
2 ounces carrot juice
2 ounces whipping cream
Chill a martini glass. Whip the cream cheese with the cinnamon sugar until soft and well incorporated. Shake the drink ingredients together then pour into the glass. Using a piping bag, decorate the edge of the glass with the cream cheese blend then dust with additional cinnamon sugar. Serves 2.
The Carrot Cake Cocktail made for a tasty dessert drink that doesn’t overdo the sugar. You can taste the carrot, probably more so than in a carrot cake, but I think that’s a bonus as carrots and corn are my favorite vegetables for highlighting natural sweetness, something the Azzurre vodka does somewhat better than the gin with their shared apple, grape, and sugarcane ingredients. Now that you have the recipe, let’s be real—I used already whipped cream cheese and only sprinkled the cinnamon sugar on top. Turns out that store-bought whipped cream cheese is HARD to press through a piping bag, if you’re curious. But if you let it soften and whip it with the cinnamon sugar, it should be awesome. I’m just lazy.
I do wonder how technically different these spirits are from rum with that sugarcane base, but neither struck me as particularly rummy in flavor. If you live in Las Vegas, you can easily try them out for yourself as that city is the primary U.S. market selling them, on and off the Strip. The rest of us will just have to wait to see how fast they expand.
Sampled during October and November 2016.