StoneWater GC’s Executive Chef Kathryn Neidus and Chef de Cuisine Temple Turner highlighted various flavor notes found in five vodkas to create a unique pairing menu.
Pairing a “neutral” spirit like vodka can be tough. It has a much higher alcohol content compared with typical pairing picks, like wine or beer, and the “heat” can often overwhelm any nuances in food.
But for Kathryn Neidus, Executive Chef of StoneWater Golf Club in Highland Heights, Ohio, and Jen Snook, StoneWater’s Mixologist, it’s a challenge worth doing.
“We started by tasting and talking about the different flavor profiles in the vodkas we had researched,” says Neidus. From there, the two narrowed the menu down to five brands sourced from different parts of the world. They looped in other members of the culinary team and began planning the menu.
“The first vodka [which was infused with fresh seasonal fruit] had lime, cucumber and peppery notes,” says Neidus. “I paired it with a steak tartare and [Snook] created a cocktail that had tomato juice, watermelon juice, cayenne powder, salt and white balsamic vinegar.”
The second vodka used hailed from France and was made from organic quinoa. It has a gentle vanilla flavor, explains Neidus, who paired it with a tortellini made with veal sweetbread, artichoke cream and crispy leeks.
Snook’s cocktail for that course featured orange and carrot juice, basil, and a lemon-lime sparkling water.
For the third course, Neidus and Snook went more mainstream with a well-known Russian vodka that was both clean and smooth. Neidus paired it with a pastrami-cured salmon served with dill potato pierogi, lemon crema, caviar and lovage. Meanwhile, the cocktail featured dill, cucumber, agave and lime juice.
This course was especially interesting to Neidus and Snook because in Russia, vodka isn’t commonly washed with juices or soda. Instead it is presented straight-up with an assortment of foodstuffs. “The pairing offered some really robust flavors,” says Neidus.
During the fourth course, members and guests were taken to Japan, with a vodka made from distilled white rice that featured violet, almond and charcoal notes. It paired perfectly, according to Neidus, with tempura soft-shell crab served with sweet corn and coconut puree, pickled shishitos, Thai basil, ponzu reduction and nori. Snook’s matching cocktail featured hibiscus syrup, coconut water, lime, and jalapeños.
For the dessert course, the team chose a handcrafted rhubarb vodka with a tart crisp edge followed by a smooth heat. With it, Pastry Chef Emma Scheer created a buttermilk bluebharb triffle made up of a lemon pound cake, bluebharb compote, buttermilk pastry cream, and caramel whipped cream.
The matching and final cocktail—dubbed “Call an Uber”—featured a strawberry ginger syrup reduction, rhubarb bitters, lemon and soda.