April 6, 2018

In Good Spirits: At home with Grey Goose

Vodka martinis in a 17th-century château? Yes, please

By  Joanne Sasvari

Not all of us can serve martinis the way the Grey Goose folks do at Le Logis. But we should aspire to.
Elegantly constructed of local limestone and surrounded by vineyards, Le Logis is the 17th-century manor house the premium vodka brand calls home in France’s Cognac region. Mind you, establishing a vodka empire in Cognac was not without controversy. Cellar master Francois Thibault still recalls how his team couldn’t get served in local restaurants back when they began distilling Grey Goose in the 1990s. “The reaction of the people in Cognac to a vodka being made in the region was very bad,” he says sadly.
This, after all, is the ancestral home of the grandest of spirits, a brandy known for its long aging and exceptional quality. “As we say in the region,” Thibault says, “we are drinking the Cognac of our fathers and grandfathers and making the Cognac of our sons and grandsons.”
But Thibault’s family came from this area, and it was here he wanted to stay when Grey Goose founder Sidney Frank approached him to create a premium vodka. So Thibault sourced fine French wheat from Picardy and developed the recipe for a vodka that would revolutionize the category. “It’s because of Grey Goose that the behaviour of the customers changed,” he says. “This region is very linked to the history of Grey Goose.”
In 2012, Grey Goose bought Le Logis as a guest house and education centre for industry professionals. (It’s recently opened its doors to regular visitors, too.) Naturellement, there’s also plenty of socializing at Le Logis—dinners by the pool, breakfasts in the cosy kitchen, and, of course, afternoon martinis on the terrasse.
The way the martinis are served at Le Logis raises the bar for all hosts. Staff bartenders add a generous amount of vermouth as well as orange bitters for subtle citrus and herbal flavours. They also batch the martinis ahead of time and serve them in a gorgeous art deco dispenser. Guests can serve themselves, then choose from silver trays of carefully arranged garnishes of lemon zest, pickled onions and olives.
Now that’s something to consider for your next cocktail hour do. Château not included.

The writer was a guest of Grey Goose. No one from the company read or approved this article before publication.

Grey Goose Martini

2 ½ oz (75 mL) Grey Goose Original
½ oz (15 mL) Noilly Prat dry vermouth
1 dash orange bitters
Lemon zest for garnish
Place vodka, vermouth and bitters in a mixing glass with ice and stir.  Strain into a chilled cocktail class and garnish with lemon zest. Serves 1.

Four to try

These local vodkas all won gold awards at the recent Canadian Artisan Sprits Competition. artisanspirit.ca

Merridale Cidery & Distillery Cowichan Vodka
The fragrant, full-bodied vodka starts as apple cider, which is distilled and mellowed three years in stainless steel. $29Wayward Distillation

House Unruly Vodka
The base for this smooth, round vodka from Courtenay is honey, which adds complex sweetness and spice. $52.50

Old Order Heritage Vodka
No wimpy vodka, this. The Penticton distillery uses B.C.-grown and -malted barley, for boldly sweet grain notes and a clean finish. $40

Stealth Distilleries Stealth Vodka No. 9
Stealth has been making corn-based vodka in North Vancouver since 2006; its Vodka No. 9 is smooth, clean and elegant. $28.35

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