Sometimes things just coincide. A few weeks ago we were visiting friends in Mesa, Arizona, who introduced us to their current favorite drink – Grey Goose Vodka mixed with Baileys Irish Cream. I’ve never been a big fan of Baileys on its own, but this combination was a treat, the perfect sweet and boozy drink to kick back with and watch a movie.
The second coincidence was that Van Gogh Vodka contacted me about the same time and asked me if I knew it was the 10th anniversary of their Double Espresso Vodka flavor, which they introduced in 2005 alongside the Espresso Vodka.
Infused or Flavored?
As a brief aside – some distillers call their vodkas infused and some call them flavored. Infused means you blend the vodka with a natural ingredient so the vodka soaks up the flavor of that ingredient. Flavored can mean either that you inject an artificial flavor into the vodka (can you really see anyone throwing a cinnamon roll into a vat of vodka?), or that you, well, infuse the vodka but you call it flavored. Van Gogh’s vodkas are infused and it says so right on the label.
Van Gogh’s Double Espresso was actually the start of – for better or worse – the new wave of flavored vodkas, which ended up with wild tastes like tobacco, menthol, bacon, cinnamon roll and every flavor known to man. Some were novelty and some were natural. I was offered a bottle of tobacco-flavored vodka to sample and review, but I’ve never smoked tobacco in my life, and it just sounded weird to me, so I declined.
Van Gogh kindly sent me a sample of their double espresso. Unfortunately for them, several other companies also sent me some bottles for review at the same time, and Van Gogh’s got set to one side. My excuse is that I assumed it was more on the novelty flavor side of the market, and I was more interested in sampling the infused vodkas from craft distilleries. My mistake.
After a few weeks went by and guilt built up, I opened the Van Gogh Double Espresso one evening for a pre-dinner drink. Wow and double-wow. It took me back to our friend’s vodka/Baileys combo, and then added some. It added an alcohol feel as though it’s only 35% ABV it had a huge kick to it.
It also had a huge coffee buzz. Normally I drink 2-3 cups of coffee in the morning to get me writing, then don’t touch it again the rest of the day. Maybe a cup after a meal if we’re eating out and you want the night to linger. But I felt I could drink Van Gogh’s Double Espresso morning, noon, or night. It tasted good as a pre-dinner drink and I bet would taste brilliant as an after-dinner dink too, maybe blended with hot coffee to make an Irish Coffee with or without the cream.
I drink a lot of vodka. To make that sound better, maybe I should say I sample a lot of vodkas to review. Some are fantastic, some are so-so, and some I decide it would be better not to review them. It’s extremely rare I take a sip of an unknown vodka and my eyebrows shoot up and I find myself slurping down a second one, simply because the first one tasted so good. But that’s what happened with Van Gogh Double Espresso Vodka. Like the story or movie you never want to end, that’s the way I feel about this bottle.
Van Gogh Double Espresso Cocktails
Double Espresso Martini
Created by William Murphy, mixologist at Quartino Ristorante in Chicago
2 oz. Van Gogh Double Espresso
1 oz. Caffè Borghetti
Shake vigorously in a tin to ensure a nice foamy head and strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with lemon oil expressed from lemon peel and leave floating on top.
Created by Maryam Kranias, manager at Kali’s Court in Baltimore, MD
2 oz. Van Gogh Double Espresso
1 oz. Van Gogh Vanilla
½ oz. Simple syrup (or simple syrup substitute)
2 oz. Cranberry juice
3 Fresh strawberries
Dash of fresh lime juice
Muddle the strawberries, add remaining ingredients and ice into a shaker. Shake well and strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with a vanilla flower petal.
To learn more about the range of Van Gogh flavours visit the Van Gogh Vodka website