As someone who works in the bar and restaurant industry, you are probably familiar with potato vodkas, but you might not be up to speed with the latest trend: sweet potato vodka. Traditionally, potato vodkas are more popular in Eastern European countries where there is easy access to plenty of inexpensive potatoes, but Americans have jumped on the bandwagon and taken things a step further with the emergence of sweet potato vodkas. Here is everything you need to know about this growing trend.
Potato Versus Sweet Potato Vodka
Making vodka with potatoes requires more distilling in order to create a more pure, drinkable product. For some, this leaves the vodka flavorless and uninteresting. However, the majority of connoisseurs will argue that potato vodkas are much smoother than their wheat-based cousins, making them the ideal choice for chilled shots followed by pickles and caviar. The non-potato vodkas are usually better for mixing drinks and cost less, so you don't feel as bad about throwing it in with some fruit juice or tonic.
With sweet potatoes, the process of breaking down the sugars into alcohol becomes a little more challenging. While it takes 3 to 15 pounds of white spuds to make a 750ml bottle, early versions of sweet potato vodkas required 25 pounds. Eventually, companies were able to find the right yeast pairing and create an economically viable version. The result is a more earthy and nutty flavor that finishes with a hint of sweetness. There is also a pleasant nose flavor that doesn't occur with white potatoes.
Is Sweet Potato Vodka Healthier?
Sweet potatoes are often touted as a superfood that packs plenty of nutrients and energy without causing a sudden insulin spike. It would be nice if all of these benefits carried over to the vodka form of the tuber, but most of the vitamins and minerals are stripped out during the distilling process.
The good news is that the leftover pulp can still be used as feed. Once all the sugar has been used up, the remaining proteins and carbohydrates are great for cows and other farm animals. Potatoes that might be considered too dented or ugly for the grocery store can be processed for vodka and then fed to animals, which means that there is very little waste created.
Where Can I Find Sweet Potato Vodka?
Currently, there are a handful of distilleries producing sweet potato vodka in small batches. Corbin Cash, NOLA, and Covington are all using sweet potatoes to speak to attract the attention of drinkers who are interesting in supporting the local food movement that is pushing for more fresh ingredients. Most brands have already branched out into making gin and other liquors from sweet potatoes, so this trend shows no signs of stopping.
Sweet Pea: A Sweet Potato Vodka Recipe
If you are looking for the best way to introduce this new liquor to customers, try this recipe from Covington distilleries:
Muddle two tablespoons of peas with a lemon wedge and one teaspoon of sugar in a cocktail shaker. Add two ounces of vodka and fill the shaker with ice. Once the ingredients have been chilled, pour through a strainer and serve.
Patrons will enjoy a new twist on vodka drinks and will be eager to see what this new trend is all about.
Sweet potato vodka isn't just a passing gimmick. The liquor provides a more complex taste than traditional white potato or wheat vodkas, which opens the door for new cocktails and flavor combinations. It also presents an excellent opportunity for bars and restaurants to offer customers something new.