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Feb 26, 2009 08:57 AM

What's up with Charbay Vodka?

I'm very sad, because I can't find Charbay's Blood Orange vodka or Ruby Red Grapefruit vodka anywhere! All I see is the plain and the Green Tea. I'm in Minneapolis/St. Paul, but I also checked in Portland last week - same limited selection.

I like all the Charbay vodkas, but I've become addicted to these two flavors. As I learned at Cempazuchi in Milwaukee, the grapefruit vodka makes a DYNAMITE Paloma. And I do love the Blood Orange vodka in my Cosmos (I know, how passe - but soon the Cosmo will be retro cool).

I asked a high-end liquor store to order these flavors for me, but they say the local distributor is out, and has been for weeks. Oh, WOE!

Is this a national problem? Does Charbay even still make their full line of flavored vodkas? I'm addicted, and I'm starting to go through withdrawal!


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  1. I've seen both in the DC area recently. Must be a local problem.

    5 Replies
    1. re: joshuaresnick

      Thanks for the info. At least I know these flavors still exist, somewhere in the world! I'll keep trying to find them in MSP. And I think I'll write to Charbay with my desperate plea.


      1. re: AnneInMpls

        In the meantime, have you tried some of the hangar one flavored vodkas?

        1. re: joshuaresnick

          I've had - and loved - Hangar One's Keffir Lime vodka, but I don't like it as a mixer. (I just drink it straight or with club soda.) The Buddha's Hand vodka is interesting, but not really for me. The Tangerine Blossom sounds good, even though it's not blood orange. Have you tried it? Is it really citrusy, or is it more perfumey and floral like the lime and the Buddha's Hand?

          I might give Absolute's grapefruit a try, though I'm not wild about their citron vodka. But I had a dynamite Grapefruit Drop cocktail the other day that was made with Absolute's ruby red grapefruit vodka (at the Heathman in Portland, in case anyone else wants to try one). I think it would do in a pinch.

          In the meantime, I'm making my own infused vodkas from Rio Star grapefruits and blood oranges. Happily, the fruits are both in season right now. But sadly, the vodka won't be ready for at least another month.


          1. re: AnneInMpls

            I've actually never had any Hangar One vodkas, though I did but a bottle of Hangar One Spiced Pear last night. (Coincidentally, the liquor store I was in had a bottle of Charbay Blood Orange).

            Given some of the videos on YouTube from Hangar One, I would assume that the Mandarin Blossom leans toward the floral. I use middle eastern orange blossom water in many dishes. It has a very perfumey quality. I assume orange blossom vodka has a similar profile.

            I'm really just getting into flavored vodkas, but I've only purchased pear so far.

            Any favorite cocktail recipes for flavored vodkas?

            1. re: joshuaresnick

              For the blood orange vodka, I like Charbay's recipe for a Cosmo:

              And I've been making a modified Paloma with the grapefruit.

              1 oz. Charbay Ruby Red Grapefruit Vodka
              1/2 oz. Tequila
              2 oz. pink grapefruit juice (or Jarritos Grapefruit Soda Pop, aka Toronja)
              Juice of 1/2 a lime
              Splash of club soda

              Otherwise, I just use a flavored vodka as a flavor booster (or contrast) in place of plain vodka. For example, the Meyer Lemon makes a great Lemon Drop, and the Keffir Lime is good in a Lime Drop.


    2. I seem to remember some talk about Charbay being reclassified as a brandy since it's a grape neutral spirit, not grain- or potato-based. I have no idea if that's actually true; it seemed kind of silly to me, but the liquor store clerk talked about it having to do with EU trade regulations or something like that.

      2 Replies
      1. See my post "Need Ideas for Blood Orange Vodka." I live in Hutchinson, Kansas and THE liquor store in town (the only one worth going to, at least) had a bottle on display at the counter (where they show off the new stuff) and I bought it on impulse and now I have no clue what to mix it with!

        Perhaps you should plan a trip to Kansas?

        2 Replies
        1. re: Antithesisofpop

          Hey, now - that's an idea! A drive to Kansas isn't out of the question. For your bottle, check out the Charbay recipes in the link above. Or see these links:

 (scroll down to "Latest HOT Cocktails")

          Enjoy your bottle of Blood Orange vodka!


          1. re: AnneInMpls

            Thanks for the tips! I'll have to start experimenting this weekend!

        2. I found Charbay in there meyer lemon vodka

          1 Reply
          1. re: triggs73

            After much investigation, I've learned that our poor selection is due to the distributor for our area. He refuses to order any "special" (slower selling) flavors - just does the top two or three sellers: plain, green tea, and sometimes pomegranate. My local liquor store says they begged on my behalf, but the guy won't budge.

            In the meantime, I've made my own ruby red grapefruit vodka, and very nice it is, too! But
            I feel bad for other Twin Citians who'd like to try these great Charbay flavors.

            Me, I'm heading to Chicago next month, and will check for the blood orange vodka there.


          2. Hooray! I was in Chicago this weekend, and I found the Charbay blood orange vodka AND the ruby red grapefruit vodka at Sam's Wines. Oh, happy me! My husband was much less happy about lugging back four bottles of vodka, plus two bottles of wine, in our carry-on bags. (We took the train, so liquids were OK). But he's not a drinker, so he doesn't have the right perspective about this. Me, it was worth every heavy ounce.

            So I say pfffffft to the Twin Cities distributor, and hooray for the Chicago distributor. I'm set for several months! Plus, I have a gallon of my home-made grapefruit vodka, which is quite good if I do say so myself.

            Everyone else, if you haven't had Charbay's blood orange vodka, give it a try - it's worth the high price. And if you like grapefruit, I think you'll love Charbay's ruby red grapefruit vodka. It's so much nicer than the other grapefruit vodkas out there; to my taste, Absolut's version tastes chemically and artificial (though it'll do in a pinch, if combined with other strong flavors).

            And if you're already a fan of these vodkas, please buy lots so they never stop making them...


            3 Replies
            1. re: AnneInMpls

              Hey Anne,

              Glad you stocked up again. This month's bon appetit magazine has a recipe for a grapefruit gimlet using the charbay vodka. It might be worth a try.


              1. re: joshuaresnick

                That looks really tasty! Now I know what tonight's cocktail will be. But I think I'll skip the plain vodka - a drink can't be too grapefruity for me.




                1. re: joshuaresnick

                  Man oh man, that's one tasty cocktail! I used 2/3rds Charbay grapefruit vodka and 1/3rd regular vodka (I decided on some reg. vodka, as the Charbay is a limited resource, after all). And I reduced the sugar syrup by 1/3rd ( I like really tart drinks).

                  Lovely! I'll be making this one again. Thanks, Josh, for letting me know about this one!