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Against the Grain 

It seems like there's a new vodka on the market every other day. Each brand says it's more pure, or more traditional than the previous one. And all say they are the best "odorless/flavorless" alcohol on the market. Simply put, new vodkas are nothing new.

Until they are.

Blue Lake Vodka is made by distillers Fred Moore and Michael McCoy of Humboldt Craft Spirits. The company's "grain to glass" philosophy — meaning its barley vodka is distilled from and bottled on-site at its Eureka location — yields handcrafted, small-batch quality. The company is also working on two new spirits: Redwood Rye and Little River Gin.

Vodka is often described as a neutral spirit without taste or scent. But lovers of the drink will tell you that is not the case. They may describe it as clear or crisp and clean. Some will use subtle nuances to separate their personal favorites from others. Ultimately, it is a "neutral" spirit and it is often distilled to remove obvious characteristics from the final product.

Blue Lake Vodka stands these conventions on their ear. At first, the aroma might be a little confusing, as it doesn't smell like a typical vodka. And your palate may be surprised, too — the taste is somewhat fruit forward with undertones of cream, grain and salt. It's creamy, bordering on buttery, with a soft, light body and long, warm finish. Another sip brings out light citrusy tones, as well, almost like grapefruit.

This unique flavor is probably why Blue Lake Vodka has started to gobble up awards like Best in Category at the 2015 American Distillers Institute Competition and a bronze at the 2016 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. It's an original.

Most mixologists will tell you that, as a neutral spirit, vodka mixes well. Here is a recipe that plays to the creamy texture and long finish. Chocolate lovers, bottoms up.

The Devil's Kiss

This is a "tini" variation for even traditional Martini lovers.

1.5 ounces Blue Lake Vodka

1.5 ounces Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey

2 teaspoons chocolate syrup

Maraschino cherry or a cayenne pepper for garnish

Add the chocolate syrup, vodka and whiskey to a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake vigorously. Serve in a Martini glass. Garnish with either a cherry or a chili.


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