From Russia With Love

For centuries, Russians have been making booze at home to barter for goods and services. Now, the first ever commercially-bottled version of the homemade spirit, Samogon, is hitting the STL market and making a splash with imbibers and bartenders alike. Concocted by master Russian distiller Valery Stepanovich, this is not your Uncle Yuri’s moonshine.

Imported by Kansas City-based Phenix Brands, Samogon—distilled from three varietal grapes from the Republic of Georgia—is said to be Ivan the Terrible’s personal centuries-old recipe. Phenix Brands head honcho Ray Edwards says it’s unlike any base spirit available in the United States, which explains why bartenders are jumping at the chance to get it behind their bars and create unique, revolutionary cocktails. The company is also importing Shpilka, a clean, smooth Russian vodka that’s no slouch either. In Spirits Journal, Paul Pacult gave it four stars, the highest rating he’s ever given a vodka, and it won the platinum award at the International Spirits festival in Belgium earlier this year.

Samogon and Shpilka can be purchased at Randall’s Wines and Spirits (1910 S. Jefferson Ave., 314.865.0199) or at The Wine and Cheese Place (7435 Forsyth Boulevard, Clayton, 314.727.8788). If you prefer to leave the mixing to the masters, try the Cucumber Samogon Martini at Salt or sip the Bing Blossom Samogon Martini at Sanctuaria.

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