Absolut Elyx came to Cairo with a bang last week, teaching David Blanks all there is to know about what makes a good vodka and, more importantly, what makes a good party....
Is it me? Or does Red Bull taste funny without vodka? -Egyptian saying
A week or so ago, some of us local bloggers and journalist types were invited by some Swedish people to a vodka tasting at La Bodega. Why people from Sweden would want to do this, I do not know, but they did. Nice people. The problem was, while other Swedish people might know very well how to conduct themselves in a vodka tasting, most of us had no clue. So they had to teach us, and we learned a lot of stuff, some of which I remember.
Among other things, we learned that different companies filter their vodka in different ways. You have to do this it seems because you want to get as pure a taste as possible. So some brands use charcoal filters, while others filter their vodka through crushed limestone, or sand, or, in one case, diamonds. I’m a little vague on that point. But the one fact stands out crystal clear in my mind is that there is a Germany company that filters their vodka over the bodies of naked women. There is a video if you’re interested which, as a serious journalist, dedicated to thoroughly researching my subject, I watched. I don’t know about the vodka, but the video was pretty good. I’m not sure why, but it’s called G-Spirits. Personally I might have gone with Bodka.
Anyway, the Swedes led us through a blind taste test of three brands. The first burned, the second was semi-acceptable, the third, was amazing. The differences were unmistakable. To our surprise, they were Belvedere, Grey Goose, and a new product, Absolut Elyx, which was clean and rich with a light nuttiness and a mellow spice. As it turns out, the word vodka literally means “little water.” This is some awesome water.
A couple of days later my hippie princess and I were invited to the Absolut Elyx launch at Tamarai. You can take your Top of the Pops, your Rouge parties, your White parties, your Back2Basics—all fun—but, for us, this was the best party ever thrown at Tamarai. It was the people—the “glitterati, the literati and the twitterati,” as CairoZoom put it; it was the location, of course; it was the silky smooth vocals of local Jazz diva Shaimaa (try filtering vodka through that!); it was the classiness of the event; mostly, though, it was all about the copper-filtered elixir that the nice Swedish people brought with them.
Copper-filtered, yes. Like I said, I didn’t know much about this process before, but I am now convinced that this is Absolutly the best way to do it. And as a foodist, someone who is into farm-to-table, organic, locally grown, slow food, what I also find really cool about Absolut Elyx is that the company follows it through all the way from planting the seeds to pouring your drinks. It is done by hand and produced and bottled within a 25km radius of the little seaside village of Åhus in southern Sweden. Famous for its eel and schnapps festivals, it is also the home of Absolut Vodka, and it is here that they grow the wheat, mill the grain, mix it with water from their pure underground springs, distill it through a bed of copper, bottle and distribute it.
It made for a very smooth evening at Tamarai, where we discovered that the best way to drink it is in a martini, or simply over ice. There were lots of different cocktail combinations at the party, but why spoil it? In cocktail terms this is a vodka that you can garnish, build, stir, throw, shake, strain, or zest, but you don’t need to add anything to it. You won’t need Red Bull—and definitely won’t have to test your drink for STDs.