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drink ideas for Russian-themed dinner party

We have an international supper clubb we started last year. It's our turn to host and Russia is the cuisine this time around. The host always is responsible for drinks. I'm not a huge vodka fan, but I realize a lot of people are, and that its use in a Russian-themed drink is probably inevitable. I even considered doing a blind vodka trading, but that's probably not a good idea for many reasons. So, what I'd like to serve is a modern craft cocktail with ingredients that reference Russia, but with something surprising--maybe the use of beet juice, or a Russian spirit other than vodka, or some other unexpected ingredient. Any ideas?

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  1. Водка (vodka) or квасс (kvass) are just about it, and I have no idea where you'd get kvass here. OTOH, you may -- depending upon where you're located some Russian, Georgian, or Moldovan wines . . .

    1. Friends of ours adopted a little boy from Russia and at his welcoming party they served all russian themed foods. Each person was offered a small glass of iced russian vodka.

      Ay the bar they offered russian wines, more vodka and as a tongue-in-cheek drink they offered white and black russians.

      They were smart knowing that not everyone would love these so they had more traditional drinks/wines too.

      1. I would imagine that you could produce some very interesting Russian seeming vodka cocktails. If you want to go for realism, however, the standard shot size is about 2.25 times that of a normal American shot and you should have a large amount of pickles, snacks, little bags of dried fish/squid/etc, and a drunk man with a guitar.

        This sounds like I'm being stereotypical,but this is my dead serious mental image of dozens of Russian house parties I've attended.

          1. They won't like it but you could put vodka in rassol, which is the brine from cucumber pickles or from sauerkraut. It is sold at markets as a hangover curative so maybe you could sell it as ameliorating the "bite" of the rotgut.

            You could always get into teh never-ending world of flavored vodkas: lemon, cranberry, buffalo grass, pepper etc. etc. etc. And you can make Kvass yourself. All it is is beer ingredients that were made into bread and are being dragged back towards beer. (oversimplification but essentially true).

            1. You could do something with tea, which is as much a part of Russian culture as vodka. Tea mixed with vodka isn't very sexy, though. Just a thought.

              1 Reply
              1. re: John Francis

                Thanks, everyone, for the great suggestions. thinking about ideas for a new cocktail with a Russian spin, it just occurred to me that Kummel might be a good ingredient idea, since lots of it is produced in Russia and folks frequently associate caraway with Russian food. Looking for recipes featuring kummel, I found a cocktail called the K.G.B. If I can find kummel at the liquor store, I will be sampling that drink in the near future. In the meantime, keep those ideas coming!

              2. No offense to your plans but I do believe that just vodka, good ole straight vodka is the true Russian drink of choice.

                You can try to mix it but outside of coming up with a gimmicky (see the white/black Russians drink comment) I don' think you will really be representing a true Russian experience.

                Pick up a few bottles of Stoli and Russian Standard (or any other's you can think of) and just enjoy the night. Have whatever assorted mixers for peoples enjoyment.

                1. If you want "real" Russian drinks then you can't do better than these:

                  1: Vodka and Coca-cola (no, I'm not kidding)

                  2: Vodka and sweetish tea (not kidding here either).

                  3: A straight highball glass of about 3oz of vodka on the rocks, or more...

                  Serve with some shasliki and very intoxicated friends and you will be Russian to the bone, Enjoy!

                  1. In Ukraine (and, presumably in Russia as well), groups of diners share a cold bottle of vodka, which they drink straight. Everyone orders a chaser of their own (juice or soda). That would probably be the most authentic way to do it. A lot of Russian restaurants in my area make homemade vodka infusions, too. Maybe try an interesting infusion (beet and dill?) and serve it in ice-cold shots in between courses.

                    1. I spent over a month in Russia drinking more than my share along the way...

                      I can tell you, hands down, the three most popular mixers with vodka are.... drumroll...

                      Sweet tea and
                      Cola and
                      Nothing... plain ole vodka

                      I know... ugghh... but you get used to it. Especially with some nicely grilled rustic shashlikis.

                      1. My experience, in Russia, from a Russian hostess, is that vodka is served neat, at the end of the meal. It should be a good Russian vodka, which is smoother than a cheap vodka.

                        The key to a successful dinner party is not the vodka, but the food. A full table is the mark of a good host. The vodka is taken for granted in Russia.

                        If a guest says "choot-choot" when offered vodka, that means "just a little bit, please." But, according to a Russian authority of mt acquaintance, "you need to say it 100 times."