Vodka has become the spirit of the mad scientist. In college, I thought we were forward-thinking when we filled a watermelon with vodka. In today's world of bubblegum vodka, that seems about as exotic as a screwdriver.
But in Kansas City, a few bartenders with a lot more imagination are making some interesting cocktails with infused vodkas. Though a bar and grill based entirely on wild infusions failed to catch on in Shawnee (read Charles Ferruzza's review of Infused last year), infusions in small doses can magically transform a bar glass.
5. The Westside (Westport Cafe and Bar) -- Vodka infusions don't have to hit you over the head to tantalize your tongue. The Westside combines the infusion of the week with lemon, simple syrup, soda water and mint.
4. Der Schmutzige (Grunauer) -- The black-peppercorn-and-mustard-seed-infused vodka that forms the base of this very dirty martini earned it a Pitch Best Of this year. The vodka is combined with saurkraut juice, pickle juice and beet brine -- meaning it's not for the faint of taste bud.
3. 1815 Martini (Thomas) -- It's hard not to think about Thanksgiving this time of year. The wait will go easier with a few 1815 martinis, which feature cranberry-infused vodka, cointreau and lime.
2. Bacon Vodka (The Drop) -- The Martini Corner spot has experimented with bacon vodka in the past for private parties. There's likely a very good reason it's not a regular menu item.
1. Ginger-infused Vodka (Lulu's) -- There's usually a half-dozen different infusions on the drink menu, many of which show Thai flair. The ginger infusion is spicy and refreshing, a nice start for the wide range of martinis at Lulu's.
[Image via Flickr: Mccun934]