A little while back I was invited to a vodka tasting. I won’t get into the details but here’s the abridged version:
“Do you want to come to a vodka tasting?”
“… Yes. Yes I do.”
Except I was online so there was no real interaction like that. But you get the idea.
And so I was instructed to meet at a restaurant called Kultura, which happened to be around the corner from my office. “It’s on King St, just past Jarvis,” a friend of mine had told me. I walked over onto King St and crossed Jarvis, but couldn’t find the place. I walked back and still couldn’t find the place. I tried a third time. After about 20 minutes of fruitless back-and-forth walking I called my friend to make sure I had the right directions.
“I can’t find this place,” I lamented.
“Oh,” she says, “there’s no name on the front. Just look for a set of double-doors next to a big window.”
Great. Thanks. How am I expected to find someplace I’ve never been before if there’s no real way of finding this place? And for fuck’s sake… put your goddamn restaurant name on the front somewhere you pretentious bastards. But I digress.
I walked inside and upstairs to the third floor where I was greeted by a small girl holding a clipboard with my name on it. Crazy. I checked in and received a ticket good for one free drink. Surveying the room as I walked to hang up my coat, I noticed there weren’t many people up there.
Three tables had been set up, parallel to one another but slightly staggered and on an angle. Each table had seats for about eight people and each place had its own setting with a glass of water on the side and three tall glasses with a shot each of Absolut, Grey Goose and Ketel One vodka. In addition, there was a plate of fancy crackers with mango chutney dip and some documents about Ketel One lying on the table.
After leaving my jacket, I strolled over to the bar to grab a drink. We had a choice of a Vodka martini (yes please) or a Cosmo (no please). I took my martini back to the table and sat down. One of the staffers there advised me on which seat to take and I was sitting at foot of the middle table, my back to the entrance. This would later prove to be an ill-advised seat as a presentation took place directly behind my back which I missed most of as I could only squirm enough to see the wall next to the presenter. Also, I ended up being in way too many pictures by accident since I was directly in front of that presenter.
My table consisted of five other people: Casie whose name I just assumed would be spelled Casey because you know… that’s how it’s spelled, who was funky/bohemian/in-your-face/etc and who took a lot of pictures, Jeannie whose name I may have also spelled incorrectly and who works in the Social Work sector, her friend Elaine who runs a fashion blog in Toronto and is also involved in Social Work somehow, and two other people whose names I’d probably have spelled correctly had I remembered them. I’m pretty sure one was from Scarborough.
People started off by talking about their blogs and about blogging in general, which always makes me leery. I don’t particularly care for the word “blog” and I find the more it’s used, the more ridiculous it becomes. As such, the more one refers to oneself as a “blogger”, the more ridiculous they seem. It conjures up ideas of someone who sits at home all day on their computer writing to people they don’t know will actually read what’s been written, as if they have nothing better to do. (I realize the irony in my writing that, but for what it’s worth, I’m better than those people. Trust me.)
I won’t go into detail about what I said when asked about my blog, but I thought it was a pretty interesting concept.
Of the other two tables, one was about as busy as ours, and the other was full of Ketel One Vodka reps who had decided to take in the tasting. Little tip Ketel One: Not cool. You kind of lose your credibility when you send your cronies to oversee the marketing ploy that we so obviously know is a marketing ploy. Try and have some dignity. Also, it detracts from the feel of the event and also could influence people’s responses to your products. But I’m sure you already know that…
The presentation began and after a little history lesson on vodka in general and then specifically Ketel One, the tasting started.
Drinks #2, 3 and 4
We sniffed all three glasses to get a sense of the differences between the three vodkas. My nose was congested so I got nothing out of that. Then we tasted a little of each vodka before actually downing each shot.
Absolut: I never liked Absolut, though it’s drinkable. More so when free. But even more so when you’re 17 and it’s what your dad has at home.
Grey Goose: You know who drinks Grey Goose? Assholes. Someone sees a magazine ad about it being the #1 Vodka in the world in 2003 and they think that by ordering it at the bar they’re something special. Grey Goose burns and does not taste good (I’m being nice here) and the French should stick to making wine and losing wars. However, I will admit… you could do worse than free Grey Goose.
Ketel One: I had never tried Ketel One before and must admit I was impressed. Not just for the sake of this review either. It was surprisingly smooth and easy going. Not what I’d expected when I learned it was a Dutch vodka. There are many other substances I think of besides Vodka when I think of Holland and the Dutch.
Drinks #5, 6, 7
Since there were so few people at the tasting, I decided to continue my learning and did a second tasting on the shots at the empty seat next to me. Same verdict as above. But more fun this time.
As I downed my second shot of Ketel One, our super-enthusiastic host and presenter, Beth-Anne (I think) refilled my glass to make sure I got the full Ketel One experience.
At the end, we were given gift bags with bottles of Ketel One and mickeys of Grand Marnier as well as taxi chits and tickets for one more drink at the bar. Martini, please. Straight. No olive. Twist of lemon. He may be Bond but I’ll drink Daniel Craig under the table every time. That’s a challenge. Once he kicks Noel Gallagher’s ass he can come find me.
Anyway… Taxi beats Subway like Paper beats Rock and like Tyson beats Givens, so I cabbed to the subway parking lot which held my car. I tipped the cabbie pretty well if I do say so myself (after all, it was on Ketel One) and gave him the mickey of Grand Marnier because he seemed like a nice guy. Besides, what better gift to give a professional driver who’s still on the clock than a bottle of booze?
All in all, an excellent night thanks to some weird asian girl who kept talking to me and thanks to Ketel One. I just hope I’ve mentioned their name enough times in this post that they’ll invite me back for the next one.