Celebrations may have taken a back seat recently, but this holiday season provides a new opportunity to welcome your closest family and friends into your space. So, this year, when you and your guests raise a glass to toast new beginnings, make sure that what’s in the glass is as magical as the moment. How better to ensure that your drinks are as good as your playlist than to use a spirit that works as harmoniously on its own as it does in a cocktail?

In the late 17th century, Schiedam, a city located in the west of the Netherlands, was best known for being a merchant port. Thanks to Joannes Nolet, a determined businessman in search of the best location for his gin distillery, Schiedam’s reputation would make a sea change within a few years and the Nolet distillery would become the linchpin for an entire industry.

Nearly 300 years later, another enterprising Nolet, this time Carolus, was intrigued by a new spirit that had rapidly gained popularity in America. This spirit, vodka, was the base for many popular cocktails in the late ’70s, including the Moscow Mule and the Screwdriver. So Carolus decided to focus on making an able competitor that would be equal parts smooth and crisp.

Using a blend of traditional copper pot stills, known as distilleerketel in Dutch, and modern column stills, the company perfected its recipe in 1983 and named the new product Ketel One, an homage to its first pot still, Distilleerketel #1. By the next year, it could be found in American bars and already on the way to becoming a household staple.

Today, Ketel One Vodka is an award-winning brand that can be found in premium bars and households around the globe. Its uniquely silky notes make it a welcome addition to any gathering, so this season, make sure you’re fully stocked with the brand’s best-selling bottles as you prepare your drinks and favorite dishes.

1. Raise the Bar

If you don’t have a dedicated bar setup at home, a bar cart will make your beverages easily accessible and add a chic touch. Make sure to pre-select and clearly display everything you’re serving, including mixers, so that guests can quickly find and replenish their own drinks. Once you’ve laid out the drinks, include a few choice tools to complete the look. These include bottle openers, a corkscrew, a cocktail shaker and strainer and bar spoons, which are especially good for cocktails that require a gentle mix.

2. A Touch of Glass

When you add Ketel One to the libations you have on hand, you’ll need the right glassware to maximize flavors. Once you make a list of what’s in your bar, you can pull your best glasses out. Don’t be afraid to mix and match or to rent from a reputable company, if you’d like more options. To best serve Ketel One, opt for a stylish tumbler if you’re serving it chilled or on the rocks, but break out the copper mugs for Moscow Mules to enhance the ginger beer, lime, and vodka flavors.

3. Mix It Up

Don’t underestimate the power of a good mixer. They may not be the star of the show, but just as every superhero has a valued sidekick, think of mixers as aides that will enhance and enliven the flavor of your Ketel One cocktail. A few simple mixers will cover most bases and add punch to everything from a highball to a multi-ingredient cocktail. Grapefruit, lime, and orange juice are perennial favorites — pour with a light hand so that the juices don’t overwhelm the delicacy of the vodka — and soda and tonic water are a must. You can also keep simple syrup close by, as it adds and evenly disperses a touch of sweetness.

4. Get Started

The original Ketel One vodka delivers a crisp, citrus-and-honey-tinged note to the palate. While Ketel One Citroen is infused with the essence of four different types of Sicilian lemons and two types of limes, pairing sweetness with a hint of bitterness for a silky smooth lemony, honey finish, Ketel One Oranje is known for its floral and fruity notes, which come from the infusion of the essence of Mandarin and Valencia oranges, and delivers a spicy, fruity finish.

Ketel One Grapefruit Mint Julep

Ingredients

  • 1½ ounces Ketel One Vodka
  • ½ ounce fresh lime juice
  • 8 fresh mint leaves
  • 0.3 ounces pomegranate syrup
  • ¾ ounces fresh pink grapefruit juice
  • 0.3 ounces honey syrup
  • Grapefruit twist, for garnish

Directions

  1. Combine first five ingredients in a mixing glass before stirring in the honey syrup.
  2. Add ice and shake. Strain into a julep cup or Collins glass filled with crushed ice.
  3. Garnish with a large sprig of mint and grapefruit twist.

Ketel One Citroen Bloody Mary (Thai Mary)

Ingredients

  • 1½ ounces Ketel One Citroen
  • 3 ounces freshly pressed tomato juice
  • ⅓ ounce orange juice
  • ⅓ ounce lime juice
  • 1 torn kaffir lime leaf
  • ½ teaspoon chopped chili, ginger, and lemongrass

Directions

  1. Add all these ingredients to your glass, stir vigorously & fill with ice.
  2. Garnish with large basil leaves and your spent lime husk.

Ketel One Oranje Cosmopolitan

Ingredients

  • 1½ ounces Ketel One Oranje Flavored Vodka
  • ½ ounce pomegranate juice
  • Splash of fresh lemon sour
  • 3 orange slices
  • Orange twist, for garnish

Directions

  1. Muddle orange slices, pomegranate juice, and fresh lemon sour in a mixing glass.
  2. Add Ketel One Oranje and shake with ice. Strain into a coupe glass.
  3. Garnish with an orange twist or fresh orange slices.

5. A Versatile Spirit

Ketel One Vodka isn’t only a standout in the bar and a key ingredient in many premium cocktails, it’s also a bonus ingredient in several delicious dishes, from savory to sweet. Adding Ketel One can change the whole flavor profile of a dish because it serves as a solvent that breaks down and extracts flavors from the added spices and herbs, enhancing the aromas and flavors as it does when used in cocktails.

Vodka Penne (from The Vodka Cookbook)
Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces plum tomatoes, skinned, seeded, and finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 4 ounces pancetta, chopped
  • 8 ounces onion, finely chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic, bruised
  • 4 tablespoons Ketel One Vodka
  • 1 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)
  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or basil
  • 6 ounces fresh Parmigiano Reggiano, shaved

Directions

  1. Melt butter in a large skillet over moderate heat. Add Pancetta and saute until lightly browned, about five to seven minutes.
  2. Add the onions and garlic until onions are softened, about five minutes
  3. Remove the garlic and add the tomatoes, vodka and red chili flakes and simmer uncovered for about 10-12 minutes, stirring every few minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until cooked al dente (tender but firm).
  5. Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce.
  6. Mix thoroughly and swirl in olive oil.
  7. Serve garnished with chopped parsley or basil, with Parmigiano Reggiano on the side.

This article is sponsored by Ketel One.