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Perry’s Steakhouse & Grille has been a staple in the Houston community and beyond for quite some time. Although they are known for their steaks, you may not be aware of their extensive cocktail program, which is headed up by Perry’s sommelier and beverage director, Susi Zivanovic. Susi is always on the cutting edge of creating something divine and after speaking with her during a private tasting at Perry’s, I was intrigued by her ability to capture the essence of a cocktail by blending flavors that seemed simple, yet resulted in the perfect concoction. So many times cocktails become lost when ingredients are “overcomplicated”. The K.I.S.S approach applies to cocktailing as well #justsayin.

The evening was focused on Belvedere, a super premium vodka brand that I am sure you all have heard, sipped, and enjoyed at some point in time. Belvedere Vodka is comprised of several varieties including their original, limited edition, and “macerations” (or fruit-flavored vodkas with no sugar or artificial flavors) like their Citrus, Pink Grapefruit, Lemon Tea, and Bloody Mary. I was excited about chatting with Claire Smith who was visiting all the way from London. She is the head of spirit creation and mixology at Belvedere and is a world-renowned mixologist. We were sampling the not yet released (at that time), Mango Passion Vodka, invented by Claire Smith herself. Yes, being in the presence of a cocktail connoisseur was the highlight of my year, but I digress.

Belvedere takes pride in the clean taste of their vodkas and their distillation process proves why. One would never have realized what goes into creating such flavors. As Claire walked me through exactly how she came up with the Mango Passion Vodka, I felt like I was creating my own perfume. She sprayed perfume-like sticks of paper with the various fruit profiles that went into making her latest creation. After sniffing hints of mango, passion fruit, tangerine, mandarins and lime (that are soaked directly into the vodka), I had a different level of appreciation for both the brand and the creation process. This was a nose opening experience, literally. Many fruit-flavored vodkas are overly sweet and you make it worse by adding more juice to your cocktail. With Belvedere, just a little tonic or ginger ale and a slice of lime will do just fine.

To highlight this new vodka, Susi created a Perry’s exclusive called the Mango Passion Fizz. In addition, I tried Perry’s Juniper Grapefruit made with Belvedere Pink Grapefruit Vodka and Perry’s Martini 79 made with Unfiltered Belvedere. And yes, the cocktails were simply delicious!

Check out Susi Zivanovic as she whips up Perry’s Mango Passion Fizz…

Shanna Jones

Shanna is the co-founder and editor of Urban Swank. She focuses on food and travel.

May 15, 2014

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