Super-premium Ukrainian vodka brand Staritsky & Levitsky were keen to show just how good vodka can be when they invited a group of press and VIPs to our Amsterdam gallery last week to celebrate their launch in the Netherlands.
Timothy Oulton’s Inspiration store in Amsterdam’s canal district was packed with nearly 100 excited guests including Dutch celebrities such as model Kim Feenstra, actress Fajah Lourens and TV presenter Sylvana Simons. With a chill in the February air, it was the perfect night to step into the cosy surrounds for some hot and spicy vodka treats.
Reviving century-old distillery methods, Staritsky & Levitsky share Timothy Oulton’s passion for time-honoured techniques, bridging tradition with modern luxury. Both artisans in their own craft, Staritsky & Levitsky use only the finest ingredients just as Timothy Oulton seeks only the world’s purest materials to create luxurious experiences.
The name for vodka in Ukrainian is ‘horilka’, which can be loosely translated as “that which burns”. Now the Dutch (or the English for that matter) may not be hardened vodka drinkers but if anyone’s going to show us how it’s done it’s the Ukranians. Staritsky & Levitsky’s signature cocktail V.I.P (Very Important Cocktail) was served alongside the unadulterated vodka shots. Guests were encouraged to first drink their shot and then bite into a sweet fig – the tradition of eating a ‘zakuska’ (or snack) to soften the taste – before sipping their cocktail.
Shaken and stirred by the Fabulous Shaker Boys, the first V.I.C of the evening was presented to footballer Evgeniy Levchenko by Victoria Koblenko, Staritsky & Levitsky’s brand ambassador. With notes of pepper and honey, apparently, V.I.C. is a lot like Victoria herself – sexy, spicy and Ukrainian.
With bottles of vodka lining the shelves of Timothy Oulton’s Drum and Axel bookcases, the gallery was transformed into one of those cool, underground night spots that only those in the know frequent. Guests put on their hats for the evening, from bowlers to fedoras, and chatted under the dramatic glow of Atom, Zig Zag and Crystal chandeliers. In between dancing and drinking, everyone was checking out the bags on display, with one lucky guest going home with a Fitzsimmons weekender from the prize draw. Cheers and good health, or as they say in the Ukraine ‘za zdorovie’.
Fancy a V.I.C at home? Here’s how you make one…
50 ml Staritsky & Levitsky vodka
20ml POM pomegranate juice
12 ml honey syrup
7 ml apple vinegar
20 ml protein
5 red peppercorns
Serve with a shot of Staritsky & Levitsky and a fig.
Step 1. Mix the peppercorns in a cocktail shaker
Step 2. Pour the rest of the ingredients into the shaker and add ice until ¾ full
Step 3. Shake and strain into another shaker to remove the ice
Step 4. Shake again and pour into a cocktail glass
Step 5. Take a sip of the shot first, bite the fig and then enjoy the cocktail.