From Russia With (lots and lots of) Love
The Ultimate Cocktail Challenge is all about matching spirits with cocktails, and Arturo Vera-Felicie, bar manager at The Rieger, last week earned a slice of bartender glory there. You wouldn’t know it from the press release, which simply states a drink called From Russia With Love made with Samogon Unaged Grape Spirit earned the Chairman’s Trophy in the Signature Cocktail competition.
What it doesn’t say is that Vera-Felicie created the drink while tinkering around with Samogon, something he describes as Russian grappa. Doug Frost (a Kansas City-based drinks guru and one of the competition’s judges) happened by the bar just then and liked what he tasted. The next thing Vera-Felicie knew, his cocktail was being used to showcase Samogon in the competition.
Vera-Felicie’s only prize was bragging rights at making a drink good enough to garner attention at the prestigious event created by F. Paul Pacult of Spirit Journal fame. “Just having a drink in there was a huge honor, and then having the judges pick it as one of the top cocktails is cool,” he says.
From Russia With Love is a variation on the Vesper, and you can make your own once Samogan hits the KC market: Combine 2 ounces Samogon, 1/2 ounce Dolin Blanc vermouth, 1/2 ounce Tanqueray No. Ten gin and 2 dashes Regans’ Orange Bitters No. 6 with ice. Stir well and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a lemon spiral.