Oct 20th 2009 8:16PM As a bartender, I don't buy into marketing hype and artisanal production methods. At the end of the day, the product speaks for itself. For the same reason that I advocate Smirnoff over Grey Goose and Absolut (see 2005 NY Times blind taste test that placed Smirnoff at the pinnacle of vodkas), I will recommend Tanqueray No. Ten to a customer asking for gin. Yes, it's a step up from the base standard, but the intricate layers of Tanq Ten come alive, whether mixed with tonic, in a martini, or on the rocks with a twist.
The take-away moral: trust your instincts, not your TV.
Jul 16th 2009 10:35PM Having been a bartender for 20+ years, I can attest to Zach's comment about Grey Goose being subpar. Its fancy bottle (and subsequently high pricing) distracts the consumer from the mediocre contents inside. I remember reading a New York Times article about a blind taste test of 20+ top vodkas - Grey Goose placed near the very bottom. The winner? Smirnoff, a vodka which prides itself on substance over style, and a heritage that transformed the cocktail revolution. My father, also a bartender, passed along colorful stories to me regarding Smirnoff, so it holds a special place in my heart (and mouth). Nonetheless, I challenge you to find a better quality vodka for the price that it sells for.
Jul 14th 2009 2:12PM I just moved to Miami from NYC, and it just isn't the same. Winning the contest would be an excellent excuse to travel back to the city and reconnect with the place I called home for so long!