The Cold Soak {a grape infused vodka cocktail}

It’s harvest season in Oregon wine country. Friends from local wineries and vineyards are talking about possible record-breaking yields of grapes this year, and the warmer-than-usual weather we had this summer should make for some exquisite wine.

If there is one particular wine that Oregon, particularly the Willamette Valley AVA, is known for, it’s pinot noir. The terroir here is ideal for growing pinot noir grapes, so much so that I was lucky enough to be given a few pounds of gorgeous pinot clusters for use in the bar. Ryan, the wine guy at The Barlow Room, thought it would be a good idea to infuse some vodka with them to be used in a grape infused vodka cocktail.

grape infused vodka cocktail using pinot noir grapes

As I was brainstorming what to mix with the grape infused vodka, I almost immediately thought of St. Germain, the elderflower liqueur. St. Germain, which has a prominent floral flavor and aroma, can be overpowering if not used sparingly. The liqueur and vodka mixed very well, but it needed a few more layers to make it a complete cocktail. Lemon juice and orange flower water added the acidity and flavor that really perfected this drink.

The Cold Soak - A grape infused vodka cocktail

With regards to the name of the cocktail, “cold soaking” is a process winemakers use mainly to extract color and flavor from the grapes prior to fermentation. The very first guest that I mixed the Cold Soak for said that the scent of it reminded her of the vinification step for which the cocktail is named.

The Cold Soak
A celebration of Oregon's signature wine.
Serves: 1
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 ounces pinot noir infused vodka
  • ½ ounce St. Germain elderflower liqueur
  • ½ ounce fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 dashes orange flower water (I used Fee Brothers)
  • Soda water
  • A few grapes from the infusion for garnish
  • To infuse the vodka, add about two cups of fresh pinot noir grapes to a mason jar and fill with vodka. Let this infuse for at least a day. Pinot noir grapes are probably not the easiest to come by, so regular purple grapes from the grocery store or farmer's market will work. It's important to avoid breaking the skin of the grapes.
  1. Add sugar, infused vodka, St. Germain, lemon juice and orange flower water to a cocktail shaker.
  2. Pack with ice and shake well.
  3. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
  4. Top with soda water.
  5. Garnish with a few grapes from your vodka infusion.

Since first infusing the pinot noir vodka, I’ve already had to refill the container with fresh vodka three times. It’s always a huge pleasure for me to have an original drink enjoy such popularity, and I certainly hope that you will give it a try and let us know what you think.

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Russel Rivinius

Bartender at The Barlow Room
Russel Rivinius listens to a lot of showtunes. Like, a lot. Between showstopping numbers, he works as the bartender at The Barlow Room in Dayton, Oregon. A native of the Pacific Northwest, Russel enjoys playing disc golf, searching for new horror movies to watch, and getting rained on in Oregon's beautiful wine country. Russel's sisters were nice enough to make him an uncle to two incredible nephews and two gorgeous nieces. In the little, tiny amount of free time that he finds, Russel is most likely to be found lounging, dancing, reading, and having a generally good time.

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Filed under: Cocktail Recipes, Other Cocktail Recipes
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