Leopard Spots - Fashionable AND Drinkable!

photo courtesy smlxl images
photo courtesy smlxl images

Does the idea of a six times-distilled spelt vodka from Poland make you roll your eyes?

“Oh, terrific,” you say. “Another fancypants vodka. And next you’re going to give us that classic vodka marketing spiel, about how it’s made with fresh, local spring water.”

Check!

“Oh, and the spelt used to make is organic, right?”

Yep!

“Yawn.”

Well, what if this fancypants vodka also happens to donate 15% of all proceeds to the Snow Leopard Trust, which is dedicated to working with communities near snow leopard habitats to preserve this endangered species often hunted for their pelts?

Chilled Paws, photo courtesy Lush Life Productions
Chilled Paws, photo courtesy Lush Life Productions

“So it’s fancypants, leopard spotted, hippy vodka.”

Well, how about looking at it this way: If you’re going to drink vodka, or even if you weren’t necessarily going to drink vodka, why not choose one that’s affordable, tastes good and helps to save the population of a majestic animal while educating local communities?

Besides, leopard spots are always in fashion, right?

On September 4th, Snow Leopard Vodka along with Lush Life Productions successfully held a launch party in the Central Park Zoo for a gathering of people who indeed chose to drink vodka - and did it in the midst of an actual snow leopard!

This was an inspired and well thought out way to introduce the vodka, now part of the Edrington Group brand portfolio, and showcase its versatility by serving it in cocktails from top New York City bartenders. Askai, the resident snow leopard, regally held court as guests took turns sipping drinks (none near him shaken so as not to disturb) in his viewing area. Although, in true cat style, he seemed far less amused by the guests as they were by him.

Once it was Askai’s bed time, brand founder Stephen Sparrow addressed the crowd, now gathered near the sea lion habitat, to speak about the Snow Leopard Trust. Though he was rather charming as he explained how the trust works together with communities near snow leopard populations to find alternate ways of earning living wages without killing animals for pelts, none of the sea lions bothered applauding. Perhaps they were upset that we didn’t offer them any of the delicious cocktails.

Naadam Coupe, photo courtesy smlxl images
Naadam Coupe, photo courtesy smlxl images

Some of the drinks served:

Chilled Paws

Created by Lucinda Sterling, Middle Branch

Stir all ingredients with crushed or shaved ice in Collins glass until well chilled. Garnish with a cherry.

Elevated Outcrop

Elevated Outcrop, courtesy Lush Life Productions
Elevated Outcrop, courtesy Lush Life Productions

Created by John McCarthy, Cedar Local and Bathtub Gin

  • 2 oz/60ml Snow Leopard Vodka
  • .5 oz/15 ml Zirbenz Stone Pine Liqueur
  • .25 oz/7.4 ml Suze Saveur d’Autrefois
  • .25 oz/7.4 ml Coriander & Green Peppercorn syrup (recipe follows)
  • 1 dash Bitter Truth Celery Bitters
  • 1 dash Angostura Bitters

Stir all ingredients until well chilled. Strain into rocks glass with large cube. Garnish with lemon wheel, fresh cracked coriander and green peppercorn.

Coriander & Green Peppercorn Syrup

  • 4oz/118.3 ml Whole coriander fresh ground
  • 2oz/60 ml Dry whole green peppercorns fresh ground
  • 2oz/60 ml Dry whole green peppercorns
  • 16oz/about .5 kilograms Boiling water
  • 16oz/about .5 kilograms White sugar

Bring water to a boil and remove from heat. Add coriander and green peppercorn and steep for 10minutes. Add sugar, return to heat, and stir until sugar is dissolved. Let steep overnight. Fine strain and refrigerate before using. Keeps for about a week.

photo courtesy smlxl images
photo courtesy smlxl images

The Naadam Coupe

Created by Gates Otsuji, The Standard

  • 1.5 oz/45 ml Snow Leopard Vodka
  • .5 oz/15 ml Fresh Lime Juice
  • .25 oz./7.4 ml Simple Syrup
  • 1.5 oz/45 ml Pellegrino sparkling water
  • 1 Rosemary Sprig
  • 4 Green Grapes

Muddle rosemary & grapes in a mixing tin. Add all ingredients and shake until well chilled. Fine strain into a martini glass. Top with Pellegrino.

So drink vodka, save leopards. Why overthink it?

Snow Leopard Vodka retails for $34.99 for 750 ml and $44.99 for a liter.