Posted by: Matt Browner Hamlin | August 5, 2011

Michael Neff on Vodka Sodas

Bartender Michael Neff of Ward III and The Rum House in NYC has a post at Serious Eats, titled “On Vodka Sodas and First Dates.” While the relevance to working at bars and witnessing first dates is somewhat minimal to people who aren’t professionals behind the stick, his description of the Vodka Soda and why people drink it is pretty spot-on.

That said, vodka-soda drinkers are like jilted lovers; they’ve often had brief relationships with other spirits in the past, and walked away feeling scarred and skittish. Reluctant to open old wounds, they have trained their palates to crave neutrality. The phrase I hear most often is, “I don’t want to taste the alcohol.” In effect, they want the punch but not the flavor.

I don’t especially blame them. Many of us learn about alcohol in college, at bars where quantity trumps quality, and the goal is to drink as much as possible on limited resources. When people say, “I don’t like gin,” they usually mean, “I don’t like cheap gin.” Blended scotch is a beautiful thing, but 100 Pipers blended scotch tastes like cough medicine.

The rest is worth reading, as is the context that Neff uses to comment on the Vodka Soda: a blind date at a cocktail lounge.



  1. The comments on that post are in-fucking-sane

    • Yeah seriously.

      People cling to their bad drinks and lack of taste with a passion.

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