Spring is in the air at Bardenay. With an eye on warm breezes and cool cocktails, the restaurant and distillery is selling its Lemon Vodka at liquor stores ($29.95, 750-milliliters).
Bardenay has served lemon-flavored vodka at its Boise, Eagle and Coeur d’Alene pubs for years. Now for the first time, we can enjoy it at home.
“It’s going to be great for summer on the patio,” promises Bardenay owner and CEO Kevin Settles.
That’s where I sampled the vodka with friends. With a pleasing smell that evokes lemon essential oil, it’s an inviting spirit in balmy weather. But don’t bury your nose too far into the glass. Bardenay Lemon Vodka is 80 proof. Sipping it neat, expect heat — more so than your typical 70-proof flavored vodka.
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On ice, it’s a clean, refreshing experience. Handcrafted in 50-gallon batches, the vodka’s key ingredient is added lemongrass, according to Bardenay.
Inspired, my wife tossed in a smidge of fresh basil leaf. Outstanding. It cut the tartness, adding a new dimension and balance of savory and sweet. Next we tried the Lemon Vodka with club soda, which created an effervescent, delicious drink. (Adding basil worked well there, too.)
Bardenay Lemon Vodka can be used to make a top-notch lemon drop, a popular cocktail. But that boils down to personal preference. In my mind, bartenders named it a lemon drop because it’s like dropping a lemon-and-sugar bomb on your tongue. We preferred tailoring our lemon drop by mixing the Lemon Vodka with a 50/50 blend of lemon drop mix and club soda — delicious and still mega-lemony.
Other Bardenay spirits you’ll find at Idaho liquor stores include regular Vodka ($24.95), Gin ($27.95), Ginger Spiced Rum ($17.95, now on sale) and Small Batch Rum ($14.95).