Tony Abou-Ganim hosted a Vodka 101 tasting and cocktail class at Maria & Enzo’s Ristorante. The Modern Mixologist brought his love and knowledge of vodka to the First Class Lounge at Disney Spring’s Maria & Enzo’s. When I say his knowledge of vodka, Tony wrote the book on vodka literally – “Vodka Distilled.” I will say this… I love vodka. I thoroughly enjoy vodka-based cocktails, so I was ecstatic that I got to attend this event hosted by the expert of vodka!
You know it is going to be an incredible class when the welcome cocktail -Happiness is exquisitely crafted. The drink is very special to Tony. It is in memory of his aunt, Helen David, who was a two-time breast cancer survivor. He created the Helen David Relief Fund in her honor for bartenders affected by breast cancer. To find out more about the Helen David Relief Fund, click here.
Here is the recipe for Happiness:
1 1/2 oz Absolut Pink Grapefruit
1 oz St Germaine Elderflower
1/2 oz Aperol
1 oz fresh ruby red grapefruit juice
1 oz fresh lemon juice
1/2 oz simple syrup
Shaken and strained over ice in a tall Collins or large wine glass. Garnish with a slice of fresh ruby red grapefruit and a sprig of spearmint.
Time to get schooled in vodka. I did not really know the backstory of the liquor beside the fact it is from Russia. Since the late 1980s, vodka has been the most consumed spirit in the United States. I had no idea it was nonexistent in the United States in the early to mid-1900s. It was really interesting diving into the evolution of vodka in the US.
Now armed with knowledge, it was time to blind taste ten different brands of vodka. I have never done a vodka tasting before. Wine, on the other hand, I have done A LOT of tastings. I was excited to see if my usual standard of Tito’s would indeed be my favorite. Slowly, but surely we made our way through all ten. To be honest, I was not the best on smelling the different notes. The only sample, I felt “confident” on the notes was number seven LOL!
Here is the list of the vodka brands our class sampled:
- Ketel One
- Stoli Gluten Free
- Stoli Elit
- Grey Goose
I was shocked that Ciroc was my favorite! It is made from grapes, so maybe my love of wine has something to do with it. Interestingly enough, the table I was seated at all agreed on their favorites for the most part – number three (Ciroc), number seven (Reyka), and number 10 (Belvedere). I was laughing at the fact that my usual standard of Tito’s I only marked as OK. The one I did NOT like though was number nine, Chopin. It is true what they say “you learn something new every day!”
After the results were revealed, the team from The Edison brought over some delicious signature light bites and their take on the infamous Moscow Mule – The Electric Mule (YUM). While noshing and sipping, the whole room just lit up with a discussion on what they thought as Tony answered questions and spoke with guests. It was fun engaging with the other guests to see which ones they preferred, etc. Lastly, we were all gifted our own signed copy of “Vodka Distilled” which was just the icing on the cake. It was the perfect ending to an amazing evening.
I learned SO much from the Modern Mixologist – Tony Abou-Ganim during his Vodka 101 Tasting and Cocktail Class. He is a true artist, and his medium is vodka. It was amazing to see his passion in action. To find out more information on Tony and his book – “Vodka Distilled,” click here. Hopefully, he will be returning to Disney World again for another awesome class. What special events are you looking forward to this fall at Walt Disney World? Post in the comments below. Stay thirsty Disney friends!
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