Every year, endeavours of YP vodka staple Grey Goose bring inspiration to bartenders across the country. For 2012, Grey Goose consulted with leaders in the mixology industry to uncover a part of the world that is consistently the best source of inspiration for the art of cocktail-making worldwide. Japan was the unanimous answer.
During a whirlwind Canadian tour, Grey Goose Vodka and Global Brand Ambassador Dimi Lezinska (also the co-host of Discovery Channel’s “Cocktail Kings”) and world-renowned mixologist Stanislav Vadrna were at Le Germain Hotel in Toronto to offer some tips sure to refresh the tastebuds of your guests this summer. The pair had valuable words of wisdom for the entertaining and cocktail-loving YP set, designed to create memorable experiences in entertaining by producing the best cocktails and impressing guests with simple techniques and unique presentation ideas. They bring home entertaining to a new, refined level; after all, laying out bottles of booze and generic mixers is so early twenties. Classic Grey Goose cocktails of the West are infused with the teachings and ingredients of Eastern culture, with the Japanese influence not only reflected in the final presentation of a cocktail, but throughout the process of its creation.
As the man widely credited as the one “who connected Eastern philosophies with Western bar practices,” Vadrna shared his expert international knowledge and experience on industry-defining Japanese techniques and unique service qualities. Upon travelling to Asia, being submerged in the Japanese culture raised Vadrna’s service industry expectations as he noticed a distinct difference in the creating of experiences in Japan compared to Western world. The Japanese philosophy, ichigo ichie (which translates to ‘one lifetime, one meeting’), is reflected in the hospitality in Japan; every meeting is unique, you have one chance and one encounter. Each encounter should thus be treasured and remembered, a philosophy that is reflected in Vadrna’s teachings. When entertaining, he teaches his the art of a true host philosophy, stressing the importance of attention to detail.Most of our savvy YP guests have seen it all, after all.
Vadrna showcased proper techniques in cocktail crafting essentials like swizzling, shaking and stirring. He explains that bartending is an entertainment art in itself and things like connecting with the customer and attention to detail, in everything from the garnish to the ice, is key. To prove his point, in front of our eyes (and within minutes) he carves a large cube of ice into a tennis ball-sized ice ball using a small ice pick bar tool -- a technique commonly used in Japan. The result is a perfectly rounded ice ball that provides one large globe of ice that cools gradually and is slow to melt. Surely well received in the sweltering months of summer, the large chunk of ice lessens the dilution to the cocktail and maintains its balance and flavour. He then makes a Japanese garnish out of the lemon by making two cuts across the lemon peel, cutting from the corner angle and magically twisting it into an Eiffel Tower-shaped creation. As an added touch, he demonstrates his Origami skills as he folds a paper Grey Goose napkin neatly into a rose. Now that’s presentation.
Dimi had a few of his own 'East meets West' recipes up his sleeve and showed how some Grey Goose favourites could make great cocktails this summer by fusing Asian ingredients like sake, tea, ginger and lemongrass with Western classics. For the YP who was never a bartender in college, he explains that making cocktails is like cooking. As a general rule, never mix more than five ingredients. Apparently, less is sometimes more in the art of cocktail making, especially when drawing inspiration from Japan. In Asia, they typically avoid strong flavours in cocktails, whereas North Americans enjoy drinks with heavier intensity. In terms of home bartending methods, Vadrna says there is “a technique but no real wrong way to make a cocktail,” and to “spice it up with your own style.” No matter what, though, he insists making sure you have high standards and this is reflected in the detail. You don’t have to miss your own party as you slave away, individually making each guest a cocktail, either; most cocktails can be made into a punch for a large group.
Refreshing options for summer include Grey Goose’s La Poire and L’Orange flavoured vodka, vodkas that Grey Goose approached with the mission to express the authenticity of the fruit by capturing it in the essence of its natural environment and extracting the best of the fruit for a completely natural flavour that is perfect for summer. This includes the sweetest, juiciest of pears and capturing the sweetness of an orange (as opposed to the bitterness) by drawing inspiration from the garden orange tree. Use L’Orange to make the Grey Goose L’Orange Asian Summer or an assortment of other cocktails. It also makes a good early evening drink aperitif. La Poire can be used to make Grey Goose La Poire Green Tea Spritzer (see below) or paired with anything from kiwi, cucumber and citrus to chocolate, cinnamon or pineapple. The original Grey Goose is a no-fail option for any cocktail base, including as a complement to the sake in the Grey Goose L’Originale Cloud Nine (see below).
Grey Goose L'Originale Cloud Nine
1 and 1/2 oz Grey Goose Vodka
1 oz Japanese Sake
1 oz fresh lychee juice
1/2 oz lime juice
1 strip lemongrass
In a shaker muddled with one inch of lemongrass, add all ingredients and shake with ice. Double strain into a chilled martini cocktail glass. Garnish with mint leaves.
Grey Goose La Poire Green Tea Spritzer
1 and 1/2 oz Grey Goose La Poire Flavoured Vodka
1/2 oz Zen green tea
Top with club soda
Prepare green tea and let cool. Build in tall glass with lots of ice. Garnish with lemon zest.