I have long been a fan of the Vesper martini, using the recipe published in the Vesper app by Q Branch:
3 oz Tanqueray Ten
1 oz Belvedere or Stolichnaya
.5 oz Lillet Blanc
Belvedere was my vodka of choice.
At my father-in-law’s house, I found myself elected to make martinis. Now, my wife’s dad favors vodka martinis, which I’ve never had success with. His vodka is Chopin, a Polish potato-based vodka. Unfortunately, we didn’t have any on hand.
What was available was Rue 33. Unfamiliar with Rue 33? So was I! Rue 33 is a vodka created by Sam’s Club, who, along with Costco, wanted to make a premium vodka “similar” to Grey Goose.
Sam’s club, I believe, exceeded their target.
In the heat of the moment, making vodka martinis with Rue 33 and Tanquery Ten gin, I “reversed” the Vesper recipe: 3 oz Rue 33 vodka, 1 oz of Tanqueray No. Ten. After pouring, I added two blue-cheese stuffed olives on a cocktail spear.
The results blew me away! The citrus notes from the Tanqueray Ten came through loud and clear. If I hadn’t known I was drinking a glass of pure 80-proof spirits, I wouldn’t have guessed. This concoction was amazingly smooth. Instead of a burning finish, I was rewarded with a pleasant spiciness after the strong citrus start.
Later, at home, I dismissed this martini as a fluke or a too-good-to-be-true, and instead tried 3 oz of Belvedere, 1 oz of Tanqueray Ten, and the aforementioned blue-cheese olives.
Bitter disappointment. Sure, it was an acceptable martini, and far better than a well-vodka martini at the corner bar, but the entire flavor profile consisted of a strong burn.
After a trip to Sam’s club, and armed with a new 1.75L bottle of Rue 33 (for under $24!!), I once again experienced martini Nirvana.
On this new batch, my father-in-law worried that he couldn’t keep from guzzling the thing, such was the smoothness, flavor, and well-roundedness of the drink!
We raced through the first round, and I made a smaller batch for the second. I’ve never undertaken a bigger challenge than sipping the second one slowly!
After much discussion, my wife’s whole family agreed this new recipe be dubbed The Kevin.
The Kevin Martini
3 oz Rue 33 Vodka (Sam’s club)
1 oz Tanqueray No. Ten Gin
2 Blue-cheese Olives on a cocktail toothpick, for garnish
Load cocktail shaker with ice, add the Rue 33 and the Tanqueray Ten. Shake vigorously, strain into a tall martini glass. Garnish with the olives on a cocktail toothpick.
[Dec 2017: A taste-off between the Sam's Club Rue 33 and Costco's Kirkland Signature brand “five-times distilled” vodka in the clear and red bottle proved that Costco's Grey Goose competitor is smoother and less harsh than Sam's. I always use the Costco vodka now!]