August 27, 2010 (Day 209) — Piledriver
My favorite local place just stocked up on the entire line of 360 Vodka flavored vodkas. In a market complete saturated in flavored vodkas, 360 has attempted to stand out from the pack by taking the environmentally aware route. They’re an organic vodka, with fully recyclable bottles, labels and lids. It’s a very green, very eco-friendly route to take. Now, not only am I ambivalent when it comes to the organic movement, I’m actually kind of hostile to it. However, the fully recyclable bottles and labels, made from recycled materials, I totally dig. I am kind of a tree hugger at heart, so I dig anything that can be recycled.
There are nine “flavors” in the 360 line:
* Double Chocolate
* Bing Cherry
* Mandarin Orange
* Concord Grape
* Georgia Peach
* Sorrento Lemon
* Madagascar Vanilla
In an effort to help you, my faithful readers, separate the tasty success from the ambitious failures, Jenn and I sat down and did a taste test on each of the vodkas, gave ideas of how tasty they were, and include some cocktail suggestions.
I’ll rank them in order of tastiness to absolute abomination. And, unfortunately, these nine flavors run the whole line. I’ll be leaving the original off the list, since it’s technically not a flavored vodka, and is a solid base spirit when you’re in need. For this experiment, we’re going with the flavors.
1) Double Chocolate
“It has a very chocolately smell. Oh, choco martini, how you call my name! It has an awesome chocolate flavor. It would be awesome over the rocks. It will make some great drinks.”
2) Madagascar Vanilla
“It has a very strong vanilla smell. It tastes vanilla-y too. It’s very smooth and very sweet. It could definitely be drunk alone.”
3) Mandarin Orange
“A solid, fruity vodka. It has a nice, crisp smell. The taste is a little heavy by itself, but it mixes very well with other liquors and mixers. See the recipe at the end of this post featuring this vodka.”
4) Georgia Peach
(This could tie with the orange. It’s also very solid.) “It smells like peach rings, a travel must when driving across Kansas! It’s very peachy, very peach-ringy and extra sweet. It could be drank alone, but it’s better mixed, I think. A fruitless mimosa would be OK.”
5) Concord Grape
“This has a very strong cough syrup smell. I take a whiff of it and the first thing I think of is Dimetapp. Not exactly promising for the start. Thankfully the taste is a lot more approachable than the scent. It has a very strong, almost artificial grape taste. Almost like grape soda. Mixes very well in a white wine based cocktail, however.”
6) Sorrento Lemon
“Mark says it smells like lemon cleaner. Awesome. If I die, we’ll all know why. It tastes like lemon Pledge! Maybe it’s okay as a mixer. Mark agrees, WORD FOR WORD!”
7) Bing Cherry
“Very strong cough syrup smell. Makes me think of cough syrup. Hopefully, like the grape, it will be better. Unfortunately, no. This is bad. I could see mixing with cola, but not much else. It has a very unpleasant aftertaste. Definitely skip this one.”
“I had some high hopes for this one. This is such a fascinating concept. I love the idea of a cola flavored vodka. It definitely smells like cola. But does it taste like cola? Well… kind of. It tastes like flat, watered down cola with a burn on the end. The ONLY thing this one is good for is putting in pop. Otherwise, avoid.”
Now, I hope it doesn’t seem like we’re bagging on 360 Vodka unfairly. It takes a lot of balls to step out of the vodka comfort zone and play around with different flavors. So, I do have a ton of respect for what 360 is trying to accomplish. Unfortunately, what we have is a line full of hits and misses.
Final verdict: The Double Chocolate and Vanilla are both very solid flavored vodkas, and at $18, you can’t beat the price. The orange and peach are booth good mixers, but not recommended for drinking neat or on the rocks. The other four? I’d steer clear.
After Jenn and I went through all the flavors, I had a bit of divine inspiration with the orange vodka. So, I came up with the Piledriver
1.5 oz orange vodka (360 Vodka)
.5 oz Grand Monarch Orange Liqueur
Top with orange juice
In a chilled rocks glass filled with ice, mix your vodka, liqueur and orange juice. Stir well.
This is quite good. It has a very pronounced orange flavor, which is to be expected considering all the various orange flavors you have mixing in there. What I found interesting was a slight vanilla aftertaste on the end. It’s a solid drink, with a strong bite. A perfect use for the 360 Orange!