Vodka mogul Grey Goose has a new spirit to celebrate, and it's packing cognac. Grey Goose VX, which stands for vodka exceptionnelle, launched September 1, which means you can get your drink on today. Simply pick up a bottle -- 750 ml retails for $74. It's not cheap, but this is one of those cases where quality over quantity is applicable.
Only a limited supply will be produced each year, and the brand will be rolling out the spirit to nightclubs and venues throughout the city. (Think LIV, Mansion, Story, etc.) But you too can get the uniquely looking VX bottle that's been modeled after XO Cognac decanters at liquor stores now.
Grey Goose brand ambassador and master mixologist Guillaume Jubien recently moved to Miami from Los Angeles. A citizen of the world, as his tattoo states, Guillaume has lived abroad half his life.
"Miami feels like a village after living in L.A. for five years where the bartender community is quite close and intertwined," says Jubien. "Still, Miami is a great place to be because it is always changing. As the city evolves, the cocktail industry is also growing. My favorite spots so far are the Regent Cocktail Club and the Broken Shaker, but I look forward to discovering more in the coming months.
"The first time he had Grey Goose Jubien was a bartender circa 1997 at London's Met Bar. I will never forget my first taste of the French vodka. It is so delicious and smooth."
After that, he knew he had to work for the company. Not only did he make that happen but he's become quite close to creator and maître de chai François Thibault. The idea for VX came from Thibault himself seizing the opportunity to achieve his dream and marry his two favorite lovers -- the spirit of Grey Goose and the delicate and prestigious Cognac.
Wanting to pay tribute to his region and its people, who embraced Grey Goose, Thibault uses Cognac made from grapes from the grand Champagne region (the highest quality cru in southwest France) to give Grey Goose a new dimension. The result is a highly powerful spirit that can be sipped on its own, mixed into a cocktail, or paired with dinner. You'll get some floral aromas and fruity notes -- peach, lychee, lilac -- and the best way to have it according to François is on their own and served between 32˚ to 42˚ F, chilled but not frozen. "It's about having a comfortable temperature to enjoy the Grey Goose taste -- light citrus, marzipan, creamy and round with a delicate finish."
We asked Jubien for some additional insight on pairing the spirit with food and what sets Grey Goose apart from other brands.
New Times: What sets Grey Goose apart from other vodka brands?
Guillaume Jubien: Grey Goose has a taste and a character of its own. The philosophy of François is to express the true character of its ingredients. First, you must start with quality and for Francois that is the soft winter wheat from the Picardie region of France. He is the Maître de Chai that oversees every step of the production and nurtures Grey Goose from field to bottle. This is what elevates the spirits quality and sets the taste profile of Grey Goose apart from other brands. As François says, "C'est le gout Grey Goose." ("It's the Grey Goose taste.")
Vodka isn't really a food-pairing spirit. What are some things you think pair excellently with Grey Goose vodka and do you think that perception could be changed as far as pairing vodka with meals?
Well, honestly, vodka is probably one the best spirits to pair with food aside from wine. To start, I would like to emphasize on what vodka brought to the bartending world 20 years ago. It gave us the opportunity to bring the kitchen behind the bar and experiment with flavor combinations that were more challenging with other spirits. You can shape vodka and combine it with all kinds of ingredients, as it's probably the most flexible spirit to play with. No restrictions. I have even made a cocktail that tasted and looked like wine by using the quality of Grey Goose to really elevate the experience and final outcome.
When pairing a meal with any spirit you must consider the five tastes (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami). The exercise is to consider the alcohol's strength and elevate the experience with cocktails that combine either similar flavors or play with the contrast of flavors. Last but not least, use classic combination of flavors. It's not about quantity but quality.
A classic Grey Goose martini is always a great option to pair with a meal -- five-parts Grey Goose vodka stirred, not shaken, with one-part dry vermouth and orange bitters served with a zest of lemon. This classic Grey Goose martini pairs perfectly with caviar, oysters, and many other light bites. For a less strong, more complex option, I recommend the Grey Goose wet martini -- made with two-parts Grey Goose vodka stirred with one-part Noilly Prat extra dry and two-drops of orange bitters, presented with an onion garnish. This is my choice cocktail to pair with fish, shellfish, salads, and Asian food. With Grey Goose, the pairing possibilities are endless.
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What is the biggest misconception that people have about Grey Goose or vodka in general and how would you address it?
Grey Goose has become successful because it was created during the perfect time and elevated the vodka category as a whole. Consumers and bartenders are now educating themselves more than ever. It's about quality and understanding what goes into crafting a quality spirit. The expertise, the ingredients, the terroir, etc. It's a combination of all of those that gives Grey Goose its identity.
Follow Carla on Twitter @ohcarlucha