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Purity Vodka Red Carpet Cocktail Challenge: Matt Abshire

THE TASTING PANEL and Purity Vodka have teamed up to put nine of the nation’s top bartenders to the test in our Red Carpet Cocktail Challenge, open now until Dec 15, 2011. Visit the Purity Vodka Facebook page to view all of the entries and vote for your favorite today!

L.A. foodie mainstay Hatfield’s has won over the City of Angels with fabulous fresh fare from husband-and-wife duo Quinn and Karen Hatfield since its inception, and the cocktails are equally innovative. Bartender Matt Abshire offers the punny The King’s Peach, inspired by Purity Vodka’s complex personality.

The King's Peach

1 ½ oz. Purity Vodka
1 Dash Fee Bros. Peach Bitters
¾ oz. Aperol
½ oz. Hatfield’s Sour (or Lemon/Lime)
½ oz. egg white
Splash simple syrup

Dry shake, then add ice and shake again. Add splash of soda and pour into Collins glass. Garnish with candied grapefruit peel.


The Tasting Panel: Purity Vodka is leading the ultra-premium vodka trend away from neutral spirits towards vodka with more complexity and character – how would you describe it to a customer at your bar to convince them to try it?

Matt Abshire: When people approach my bar and ask for a vodka (Martini, soda, etc.), I ask them if they want any specific vodka to drink. Nine times out of ten, I get some answer to the tune of "What's your favorite?" or "What would you recommend?" That's when I pull out Purity. Now, most people ask "Well, what's so good about this stuff?" or "Doesn't all vodka taste the same? Like nothing?"(Hardy. Har. Har.), and then I say, "Maybe most, but not this one. This is the first vodka I've ever tasted that actually has body and character. It's in a class all its own because it's distilled 34 times, something most vodkas you've drank won't even think about. It has such a smoothness— I recommend drinking it simply chilled or with a few rocks. It is hands down my favorite vodka and one of my favorite spirits we carry...and I'm not even a vodka drinker!

TTP: What’s the “vibe” at Hatfield’s, and how do you convey that through your cocktail menu?

MA: The vibe at the bar in Hatfield’s Restaurant is upscale, yet relaxed and comfortable. People see our bar and want to belly up for the long haul. A great deal of people eat dinner with cocktails and get chatty, and we're just the right amount of busy that we actually get to be fairly in-depth with them. We live in a pretty amazing time, right now, when people are legitimately interested in cocktail culture, old and new. So we get to "nerd-out" often with excess knowledge of every ingredient that goes into whichever cocktail they're drinking. Our cocktail list is a great catalyst for that, with over 25 hand-crafted cocktails for any palate in dire need of a libation.

TTP: Who inspires you to make great cocktails?

MA: A lot of my inspiration when creating a cocktail comes from people. Usually, when talking to professional drinkers, you get a feel for not only their favorite spirits and flavors, but also their specific personality. So when I talk to someone that I want to make a cocktail for, I try to personify the drink according to the personality that would be on receiving end of it. How sophisticated? How cocky, bold, or brazen? How bright or funny? How charismatic or smooth? Once I have a feel for the person, the cocktail begins to take shape.

TTP: What's your bartending pet peeve?

MA: My biggest pet peeve in bartending is probably one of my biggest pet peeves in life: laziness. I'm sure there are a million different factors that go into laziness, but mostly just uninspired, un-fun, and uncreative-ness behind the bar. When I see a bartender who just "can't be bothered" to take the time to peel two different citrus fruits or muddle something with actual sugar, then I, like most patrons, "can't be bothered" to order a second round. That and the fact that SO many bartenders have no clue how to make a real Old-Fashioned. It should look nothing like a whiskey soda. Period.

TTP: What was the inspiration for this cocktail recipe?

MA: My inspiration for The King's Peach started with a craving for a fizz. Honestly. As I was thinking of trying something out-of-the-box with Purity,, the two immediately t-bone crashed. Eureka! Something fizzy with light, yet distinct flavors, all wrapped up in a spirit that can hold its own weight to bring it home. It's probably the last thing that I would normally do with Purity, mostly, because I don't want to do anything to it but drink it straight or add the lightest touches to accent it's already great taste. However, I challenged myself to make something a little bolder and brighter. A few tries later, I had it. A refreshing, crisp, fizzy drink that goes down smooth and leaves you wanting another.

Good luck, Matt! To vote for Matt, visit: www.Facebook.com/PurityVodka


NoBar BKNY may call Brooklyn home, but its roots are thoroughly rooted in NOLA, with craft domestic brews and classic cocktails making this one of the neighborhood's hottest hotspots. It doesn't hurt that the bar is owned by actor Anthony Mackie, who has starred in such films as Million Dollar Baby and The Hurt Locker. Bartender Jenny Pedraza is a Purity Vodka fan, and created Purity on Nostrand, in homage to Nostrand Ave, the bar's street.

Purity on Nostrand

2 oz. Purity Vodka
1 oz. fresh-squeezed orange juice
½ oz. oz fresh-squeezed lime juice
1/2 oz. powdered sugar simple syrup
1 barspoon Herbsaint absinthe

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice; shake hard and strain into a highball glass. Garnish with lime wheel and dusting of powdered sugar.


THE TASTING PANEL: Purity Vodka is leading the ultra-premium vodka trend away from neutral spirits towards vodka with more complexity and character – how would you describe it to a customer at your bar to convince them to try it?
Jenny Pedraza: I would tell them that it is 34 times distilled and unfiltered, and the world’s most award-winning ultra-premium vodka. If that didn’t work, I would tell them that it is the world’s most highly-refined spirit, with only 10% of the distillate kept.

TTP: What’s the “vibe” at NoBar, and how do you convey that through your cocktail menu?
JP: The vibe at NoBar is very friendly, diverse, and fun. Our cocktail menu has the same attitude. There are classics and modern riffs… a little bit of everything— just like our clientele.

TTP: What are the current mixology trends in Brooklyn?
JP: Fire. I see a lot of people flaming citrus zests and burning absinthe on sugar cubes before dripping water on them.

TTP: What is your favorite mixology technique?
JP: Atomizing absinthe, vermouth or other liquids to provide just the slightest hint of flavor and smell.

TTP: If you could make a drink for anyone alive or dead, who would it be and what would you make them?
JP: Federico Garcia Lorca. I would make him a Caol Isla Sidecar.

TTP: You’re trapped on a deserted island with a case of Purity and bountiful fruit trees. What three bar tools do you bring with you?
JP: A cobbler shaker, a sharp knife, and a lighter.

TTP: What’s your bartending pet peeve?
JP: Dirty glasses. I can’t stand when other bartenders don’t polish glasses before serving drinks in them. Even worse is when they touch the rim of a glass when serving the drink.

Good luck, Jenny! To vote for Jenny, visit: www.Facebook.com/PurityVodka


Goldfish in Atlanta is a fish-lover's paradise. From fabulous seafood and sushi to the restaurant's 600-gallon salt water aquarium, not a single detail is missed at this upscale eatery. Mixologist Bache Holland is holding down the bar with Purity Vodka in a complex cocktail called Purity Pingsation, and THE TASTING PANEL threw a few questions his way.

Purity Pingsation
1 ½ oz. Purity Vodka
1 oz. lychee liqueur
1 jalapeño slice (seeds removed)
2 pieces of lychee
3 lemon slices
5 mint leaves
2 tbs. agave nectar
Splash of sour mix
Splash of pineapple juice

Muddle jalapeño, lychee, lemons and mint with agave nectar and sour mix. Add Purity and lychee liqueur and shake in ice. Strain into Martini glass. Garnish with lychee and lemon twist.


THE TASTING PANEL: Purity Vodka is leading the ultra-premium vodka trend away from neutral spirits towards vodka with more complexity and character - how would you describe it to a customer at your bar to convince them to try it?

Bache Holland: I would inspire my guests by not only telling them about the properties of the vodka, but also by allowing them to do a taste test side by side with a vodka of their choice. The constant distillation in Purity creates a smooth passage over the tongue and down the throat. I would tell them that their senses will love the smooth feeling of this wonderful vodka as it soothes the throat and encourages other flavors to enhance it, as opposed to other vodkas that overpower mixers.

TTP: What is your bartending pet peeve?

BH: Customer who asks me to "Just make them something."

TTP: What was your inspiration for this recipe?

BH: My friend Ping who likes the kick of jalapeños in his drink.

TTP: What is your favorite mixology technique?

BH: Layering flavors.

TTP: What are the current mixology trends in Atlanta?

BH: Mixology has grown fast in this city. There are competitions springing up every other month. It has become a hot commodity.

TTP: Who inspires you to make great cocktails?

BH: My bar manager Ben Mizel and my guests that frequent every weekend.

Good luck, Bache! To vote for Bache please visit: www.Facebook.com/PurityVodka

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