Bargain hunting? Searching for a hidden gem? This column will profile spirits known as “The Bottom Shelf”. Should you take the chance, or run like hell? Keep on reading and find out!
The spirit: Stravinsky Vodka
The price: $18.99 (1.75 L)
The strength: 40% ABV (80 proof)
Why I bought it: I am using Stoli for vodka martinis and sipping over rocks. For mixing with tonic, cranberry juice, or a splash of club soda, I like to use a middle tier spirit. I had not been much of a vodka guy until about eight months ago (coincidentally, that’s when I started working one of my current jobs!) and while Stoli and Tito’s are hands-down my favorite for premium, I have been sampling some of the cheaper stuff. The Polish-made Stravinsky stood out as being on the higher end of the Bottom Shelf spectrum. Just read the note that comes on the back of the bottle.
The nose: Pretty smooth, actually. Side by side with Stoli, they are similar, though the latter is a bit more mellow. For people that are not vodka drinkers, they may be wondering what could possibly be repulsive about vodka? It’s clear and supposed to be relatively invisible, right? Well, given some of the stuff out there, I actually have been taken aback by the scents of some of these low-end vodkas. Not the case here.
The taste: Aside from a slight bite, this is good vodka. So good, I actually made a couple of martinis with it. While I used more vermouth and olive brine than I would have with a premium, at the end of the day, this is a solid product. There is nothing Bottom Shelf about this, and the price itself would barely put it there. This was actually on the shelf sandwiched between Svedka and Sobieski (both of which have been my go-to for middle-tier over the years). Had this been just two dollars more, it would have matched those other two vodkas and not been considered bottom shelf. Lucky me, and perhaps, lucky you.
What to use it for: While I cannot imagine sitting around all night taking shots of this stuff to the backdrop of classical music, this is a more than serviceable vodka for the price. I am not immediately reaching for Stravinsky for a martini, but for mixed drinks, this rye-based vodka provides the crisp, clear taste that anyone would be happy with.
Final grade: B-
Comments: If it was not for this column and trying to sample more of a variety, I would be perfectly satisfied with grabbing another bottle of Stravinsky when this one runs out.