The Goose, The Mule, and Sidney Frank

I love brown liquors.  They are generally robust, complex, and most importantly, delicious.  This is part of my disdain for vodka.  Vodka is bland and tastes like nothing, as it should.  However, it isn’t the spirit that garners my hatred so much as it is with the pretentious vodka drinkers who tell me about the subtle refinement of Grey Goose as they dump it into an orange juice filled glass.  Idiots.

Sidney Frank, the father of Grey Goose, was a marketing genius.  I mean this is the guy who made Jägermeister popular.  What was his secret? Americans are not very smart.  Well, that and Americans strive for luxury whether it is real or perceived.  In the mid 1990s the dot-coms were flourishing and people were drunk with money.  Absolut was the brand of choice and considered the premium vodka available.  It was priced under $20.  What does Mr. Frank do?  He creates a great back story to go along with the vodka he hasn’t even made yet, strikes a deal with some cognac distilleries that had fallen on hard times, and invents the $30 bottle of vodka, which is almost twice as expensive as the next closest competitor.  The perception of the quality came from the outrageous price.  Mr. Frank was absolutely brilliant.

There have been numerous marketing studies that reveal ones perception has almost everything to do with how people judge their vodka.  Remember that Vodka is a grain neutral spirit and by definition is a flavorless and odorless spirit.  At a fundamental level there is no difference between vodkas.  The only real difference is the removal of the impurities and if you really wanted to (although I don’t recommend it), you could use a Brita filter to accomplish the same thing.  With all of this said, is there a difference between vodkas? Yes.  But, do you need to pay $40 a bottle for it?  No.

So, why the rant and thoughts on vodka?  I was out celebrating my anniversary at Woodberry Kitchen for brunch with my wonderful wife, Red, and she said, “Oh, I know what you should have: a Gov’t Mule (not to be confused with the band)”.  My taste buds recoiled and my face knotted up like I had seen Bea Arthur naked.  It’s just noon and she wants my first drink of the day to be vodka based?  And here I thought she loved me.

“Why?” I respond.  “Because it sounds good.” Like any good husband, I acquiesced and ordered the Gov’t Mule along with my brunch not hoping for much.  As it was placed in front of me my outlook brightened a bit.  It was served in a copper mug that was brilliantly cold, which assuaged some of my apprehension of the smaller ice cubes I noticed in my drink.  Large well formed ice cubes are essential to good drinking, but that is a discussion for another day.

The Gov't Mule

Photo Courtesy of Michelle Howell at Kitchen Treats

The Gov’t Mule is made with Prairie organic vodka, house-made ginger beer, lime-ginger simple syrup and garnished with lime shavings.  I was impressed by the nose.  My immediate first impression was the clean citrus and floral notes that smelled like spring fading into early summer.  I was worried that with the infusion of the simple syrup the drink would lean towards that cloy aftertaste indicative of so many vodka based drinks.  I was pleasantly surprised to be wrong.  It was light and crisp with just a hint of sweet throughout and just a modicum of  heat from the ginger beer to balance it out.  It was the perfect compliment to cut through my heavily smoked andouille sausage (which was positively divine).  The Gov’t Mule was perfectly created.  There was no bite at all from the vodka, instead it did what so few vodkas do.  It incorporated the components of the drink and made them its own and the drink left a clean mouth feel.

I cannot believe I am writing this, but I highly enjoyed this vodka based drink and would submit it for recommendation for other discriminating palates.  It appears that my distrust for vodka drinks had been misplaced…at least for this one occasion.


~ by its12oclocksomewhere on March 30, 2010.

5 Responses to “The Goose, The Mule, and Sidney Frank”

  1. I tend to be bored by vodka, too (I think it does have an instrinsic flavor, and I don’t much like that flavor). But I’m a fan of Absolut Peppar. When you get down to it, Absolut Peppar is good for the same reason as a good gin–each is an ostensibly neutral spirit flavored with a imaginative array of botanicals. For that reason, I’m even willing to refer to a combo of Peppar and vermouth as a “Peppar martini.”


  2. I am an employee of Woodberry Kitchen in Baltimore MD, and I know that the Gov’t Mule is a perfect cocktail…well done!


  3. I’m a scotch man myself. Generally, I associate vodka with drunk sorority girls, as their complexities are both equal (sorry, Red, but you know it’s true). However, I could see this cocktail complimenting a delightful brunch… on the beach… in Cabo… served by a topless waitress.


  4. I cut my first drinking tooth on a shot of Absolute, and from then on I was resolute that vodka should be used for one of two things, fueing Formula 1 cars, or removing paint from the side of a house. Then one day I had the most well put together bloody mary. But as adam pointed out, a drink like a bloddy mary or gov’t mule has a place and time associated with it’s relevancy. If you’re in the right place, at the right time, with a well done vodka based drink, it can be heavenly. If not, you end up with a bad scene fom spring break and a hangover to boot.


  5. […] Without going on too much of a tangent, without a good ginger beer it is impossible to make a Moscow Mule, a Dark and Stormy, or a Crimson Gradient.  Ginger ale is NOT a suitable […]


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