This Unexpected Ingredient Will Change Your Vodka Cocktails Forever

Is vodka your go-to mixer? While whiskey aficionados and gin snobs may look down on vodka for its less-flavorful profile, it has a unique charm all its own. In search of a vodka expert, we spoke with Steve Conlin, who is CEO of Ogden's Own. This witty Utah-based distiller is best known for its Five Wives vodka, although they also produce an LGBTQ-friendly Five Husbands version (via The Salt Lake Tribune). Conlin told us, "In general, vodka is an under-appreciated spirit because it provides a fantastic canvas for flavor and ingredient experimentation in cocktails."  

One of the unique ingredients Ogden's Own staff and bartender partners have been experimenting with lately is something you might not have expected to see in a cocktail — activated charcoal. Conlin says that it actually goes great with vodka due to its "unassuming but subtly bitter flavor" and the fact that the dark color it imparts makes for "a visually intriguing and mysterious looking cocktail." 

Perhaps the main reason why activated charcoal cocktails may become more of a thing in the near future is the fact that this ingredient, according to Conlin, "can be a great addition to the popular DIY trend of 'detox' drinks due to some of its natural properties."

How to make the Drunken Detox

Intrigued by the thought of a charcoal cocktail but not sure where to begin? Conlin's got you covered. He says that everybody at Ogden's Own is crazy for a drink they like to call the Drunken Detox, involving their own vodka (wives or husbands version, as per your preference) along with a few other ingredients. One of these, beet juice, seems like almost as weird a mixer as charcoal, but then again, every classic cocktail depends on a mysterious alchemy of unexpected flavors that somehow blend into a harmonious whole. Plus, all these healthy ingredients practically cancel out any side effects from the vodka, no? Well, perhaps not, but, as Conlin says, this drink certainly "makes for a fun and simple switch-up to the typical brunch beverage!"

Anyway, if you want to mix one up and see for yourself. You'll start by pouring 1 1/2 ounces of vodka into a cocktail shaker. Add 1 ounce of beet juice, 1/2 ounce each of lime juice and honey-ginger syrup, two capsules of activated charcoal powder, a splash of orange juice, and a pinch of sea salt. Add ice, then shake the drink until it's very cold. Pour it into a martini glass and serve garnished with an orange peel. Now get ready to detox as you booze it up. Multitasking, we'll drink to that!