A couple of weeks ago, the Internet was aflame with the news that the Alaska Distillery in Wasilla had started producing salmon-flavored vodka. This was chiefly news because Wasilla is the home of
sportscaster pageant queen Alaska Governor vice-presidential candidate author Republican rabblerouser Sarah Palin, not necessarily because of the merits or lack thereof of Alaska Distillery's product, and that's a shame, because salmon-flavored vodka is an idea whose time has come.
If Toby Foster, the master distiller up there in Wasilla, wants to make a real go of it, he should call it “lox shnaps” and have it distributed at places like Russ and Daughters and Zabar's; following is a list of suggestions for extensions of the Ashkenazi-American Jewish Vodkas line. It'd have to be certified kosher, and given that the nearest synagogue to Wasilla is 40 miles away in Anchorage and is Reform besides, that might be difficult.
1. Chopped Liver
The lowliest food–what am I, gehakteh leber?–could become a delicacy anew if Alaska Distillery would just brew it into vodka. Package it with a small drawstring bag of desiccated gribenes–crispy chicken skin–to stir in and you've got the complete package. A glass of this at lunch time and you'll never feel you need to adulterate your corned beef sandwich with the organ-y, gout-inducing spread again.
2. Gefilte Fish
Kudos to the distillery for having broken down the wall of fish-flavored vodka. Since nobody actually likes to eat any gefilte fish except their sainted bubbeh's, the physical fish quenelles that you see in restaurants and appetizing stores have been sitting there untouched since Golda Meir was Prime Minister of eretz Yisroel. They could be replaced (recycled into soda cans, maybe) with bottles of Alaska Distillery Gefilte Fish Flavored Vodka.
Why is this vodka different from all other vodkas? Khrayn is horseradish; face-searing, esophagus-burning, shvitz-inducing horseradish. It goes with both chopped liver and gefilte fish like eggs and bacon (Khas v'khalileh–God forbid–you should ever eat such trayf!). A shot of very cold, khrayn-flavored vodka in the morning and you'll wonder why you ever bothered with the trouble of making coffee.
Good pastrami outside New York (and a very few other places) is a rare bird. It doesn't travel especially well, few people outside New York know how to treat it when they get it, and when you do find it and it's worth buying, it costs the earth. With an easy partnership between the Alaska Distillery and Katz's Deli on the Lower East Side, that ephemeral pastrami flavor could be widely available and shelf-stable; I see it served up in cocktail glasses rimmed with spicy mustard and dipped in rye cracker crumbs, and garnished with a nice half-sour from the barrels at Guss' Pickles. “Send a bottle of pastrami to your boy in the Army!”
5. Chicken Soup
Jewish penicillin meets Russian efficiency. Everybody who's ever been on the short end of both a checking account and a cold knows that vodka is medicine: take enough of it and you stop caring about how you feel. Well, how about infusing the health-giving qualities of “chicken in the pot” into the sinus-clearing alcohol of vodka? What, you don't think it'll work? No soup for you!