June 22, 2016 | By Mike Raven
Kevin Denton: Before there was Absolut, the “lifestyle” brand of spirits didn’t exist. Absolut barnstormed the Studio 54 set in the early ‘80s; it inspired artists, fashionistas, musicians, writers and moguls. It launched an advertising campaign that is studied in marketing programs around the world. Absolut bucked tradition and took up causes that it felt mattered, long before it was trendy to do so. Absolut has always been extremely environmentally conscious – it has a negligible carbon footprint and is one of the most energy efficient distilleries in the world. Many brands want to convince you that just because they are small, they are somehow superior. Absolut is a great product that has had inclusiveness, quality, creativity and environmental responsibility at its core since it landed 35 years ago.
ITM: There has been a resurgence of the classic cocktail, the Cosmopolitan, recently. Besides the time-tested original recipe with Absolut Citron, can you suggest a riff on the famous cocktail for summer menus?
KD: This modern classic does well with simple twists. Consider adding mint for a Cosmo-jito. Swapping grapefruit for cranberry gives you a bracing citrus-forward drink. If you’re looking to extend this drink, consider it over ice topped with soda for a long refresher.
ITM: Absolut Mandarin has been a favorite since 1999. With the popularity of the Mule as of late, is Mandarin adaptable to this trendy drink?
KD: Mandarin is a versatile vodka that lends itself to lots of different applications. Mules with Absolut Mandarin work great with a squeeze of fresh lime, or you can bump up the orange flavor with a splash of triple sec.
ITM: Do you have a favorite summer flavor to incorporate into cocktails once the weather gets warm?
KD: As soon as the ground begins to thaw and tiny shoots begin popping out of the ground, it’s time to incorporate fresh herbs into cocktails. It’s the easiest way to add freshness and aromatic zip. I prowl the farmers market as soon as I start seeing fruits and vegetables reappearing. Early summer is great for berries, mid-summer for stone fruits like peaches and plums. Baby veggies have concentrated, sweet flavors that are great for juicing.
ITM: One of the hottest flavors this time of year is always the tropical fruit mango. How do you showcase Absolut Mango in a Caribbean-style cocktail?
KD: Mango is far more versatile than it is credited for. A simple long drink with lime, agave, mint and soda is refreshing. If you want to explore tiki flavors, the addition of cinnamon, coconut, allspice and sugar cane are essential. With any flavored spirit, always consider the base flavor first and think about what other flavors will amplify the best aspects of that base.