I have great respect for vodka. I'm always impressed by the skill of a master distiller who creates an outstanding, nearly neutral spirit, with or without the aid of filtration. I love the history and cultural significance of vodka. I enjoy the elegance embodied in a well-chilled, neat pour of vodka, drunk delicately, with a meal, so as to savor its fine subtly of flavor and texture. But I hardly ever use it in cocktails.
I used to be one of those people who avoided it because being a vodka "hater" was trendy; ironic for me, as no one who has ever met me would deign to call me trendy, but that dark time is behind me. These days, my reluctance to use neutral spirits as a base in cocktails boils down to my desire to have the base spirit influence the overall flavor of the drink.
But every once in a while, I create a drink for which vodka is the perfect base, precisely because of its neutral quality. That was the case the other day, when I made a lovely young woman from Sweden the Tres Flores. I wanted the delicate floral flavors in this drink—elderflower, violet, and rose—to take center stage; vodka to the rescue. This drink is strong, subtle, and beautiful. It's also delicious. Martini drinkers who want something a little different will love it.
Tres Flores (Nathan Robertson, 2016)
Vodka 2¼ oz
St. Germaine Elderflower Liqueur ½ oz
Crème de Violette ¼ oz
Rose Water 15 drops
Combine all ingredients, with ice, in a stirring vessel. Stir. Pour into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a rose petal and four drops of rose water, placed on the petal.