We asked Grey Goose to create a special holiday cocktail for guys who have braved the stores, shopping malls or even the Internet to engage in the annual ritual of feverish Christmas shopping. Grey Goose set its master mixologist, Nick Mautone, to the task, and he came back with this soothing take on an Old Fashioned (using vodka instead of brown liquor, natch) — the perfect antidote to a day spent running up the credit card bill, if not dodging flying elbows at the sale racks.
After he was finished shaking and pouring, Mautone even obliged us to a quick interview to explain why this cocktail can help a guy recover from dreaded shopping, his feelings about artisanal bitters and the increasingly touchy: bartender or mixologist?
What makes this the drink to help guys deal with the stress of holiday shopping?
Any time you muddle something, you get to mash down hard on some fruit…Imagine it’s the big toe of the person who took the last black cashmere scarf you were just going to grab for your wife! Plus, it packs a kick to help you calm those frazzled nerves.
Have you done all your shopping yet?
About 50%. I still need to spend an entire day getting the balance. I am also making some prickly pear — infused pear vodka for some close friends and business associates. I still have to filter off two gallons of the liquid!
What do you want for Christmas?
Peace on Earth. Goose Martinis for all! Okay, maybe a crystal cocktail pitcher for my nightly martini.
How do you approach making a new cocktail?
I do like to think about how, where, why and with what that cocktail might be served. Then I try to make a cocktail that will pair well with that experience. So I am either trying to complement the mood with the cocktail or complement the food with the cocktail.
How do you feel about exotic ingredients like artisanal bitters, obscure chilies, etc?
I love them all. I have 20 or so bitters in my pantry, and use a wide variety of salts, sugars, dried and fresh spices and herbs, as well as a plethora of seasonal fruits and vegetables. All have their place when used judiciously. I recommend to people to work with a few ingredients that you truly love, master them and build from there.
Are you a mixologist or a bartender or both?
Now, a mixologist. I was a bartender many (okay many, many) years ago. I spend most of my time consulting to restaurants, bars, hotels. I get behind the bar for special events and benefits; otherwise I am more of a manager and bar-chef than day-to-day bartender.
Last one: Why is Grey Goose the best vodka to use in this drink?
It simply tastes the best. It is smooth, elegant, supple and fresh tasting. The harshness and bitterness found in other vodkas is simply not there. Plus the wheat base of Grey Goose gives it a bit of fruit and sweetness on the finish.
- 2 parts Grey Goose Original Vodka
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
- 1 tsp sugar
- 2 twists Blood Orange (or regular orange)
- 1 tsp pomegranate seeds
For the Garnish
- 1 long rind blood orange
- In the bottom of a cocktail shaker place 2 of the twists, the pomegranate seeds, sugar and bitters, and muddle well.
- Add ice and Grey Goose shake vigorously.
- Double strain into a martini glass.
- Garnish with orange.