Drink of the Week: Tomatini

I spent a lunch hour earlier this week at a vodka tasting with Bob Nolet, an 11th generation distiller from Holland who’s best known in Canada for producing Ketel One vodka. I know what you’re thinking: “Vodka for lunch? How Mad Men. Sign me up!” Believe me, there was a little bit of that going on — especially since I tasted three different vodkas and got halfway through a vodka cocktail before any food arrived. Plus, Nolet was accompanied by Jenner Cormier, a Ketel One spokesman/bartender who just won the World Class Canada Bartender of the Year title. He is also easy on the eyes in a Don Draper kind of way.

Over the course of the tasting Nolet and Cormier sold me on the charms of this small-batch, pot-stilled spirit and I was eager to try it at home by shaking up some fall cocktails. Intrigued by the idea of muddling a tomato (a first for me), I opted for the Tomatini, created for Ketel One by a bartender from Dubai.

A vodka drink with muddled tomato and white balsamic vinegar.

A vodka drink with muddled tomato and white balsamic vinegar.

As I measured white balsamic vinegar and vodka into my cocktail shaker I imagined that the end result would taste of boozy gazpacho, a tonic both strong and savoury. Alas, no. The recipe also calls for sugar syrup so, in combination with the vinegar and tomato (remember: it’s a fruit), my drink was too sweet for my liking and I recalled Nolet’s and Cormier’s words of caution: that cocktails from Asia and the Middle East (e.g. Dubai) are often sweeter. Doh!

I quickly dispatched the Tomatini and used the lovely Ketel One to muddle up my favourite vodka cocktail, a Dawa. But in the spirit of fall, I bring you the Tomatini (feel free to adjust the sugar and vinegar according to taste).

My attempt at the Tomatini doesn't look quite as nice, does it?

My attempt at the Tomatini doesn’t look quite as nice, does it?

Ketel One Tomatini

  • 1.5 oz Ketel One Vodka
  • 1/3 oz white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 oz simple syrup*
  • 1 ripe red tomato
  • Pepper Grinder

Cut the tomato into 8-10 chunks and muddle in a cocktail shaker. Add the balance of ingredients with lots of ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with black pepper.  

*To make simple syrup, add 2 parts of sugar and 1 part of water to a small saucepan.  (1 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of water is a good starting point). Gently heat until it starts to boil, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved. Cool and refrigerate. 

— Recipe created by Jimmy Barrat, Zuma Restaurant, Dubai

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