Vodka Martini or a Kangaroo Cocktail – David Embury

2 parts French vermouth

4 parts vodka


1 part tomato brine

Embury is pretty clear on where he sees vodka in his earlier edition. “It is hard to conceive of any worse cocktail monstrosity than the vodka martini, the vodka old-fashioned, or vodka on the rocks,” he wrote. “If you don’t like the taste of liquor,” he asked, “why drink it?”

In this later 1953 edition he seems simply nonplussed by the whole idea, the vodka martini receives little more than a footnote in his section on martini’s in his 6 basic drinks section.

The Kangaroo Cocktail is a vodka martini, I’m not sure which came first, but the Kangaroo started cropping up in books in the 1950’s, around the same time as vodka started to appear in the US. It seems a little bizarre that the ‘Russian dynamite’ that bartenders were wary to use would end up in a drink named after an Australian marsupial, but then again naming drinks is a long way from a science.

This drink we tried after dinner, perched around my Russian family’s kitchen counter, we’d waited 4 days but finally I was in local food heaven with rye bread, pickled mushrooms, pickled tomatoes, cured ham and Sala (the shaved lard on the right), all of which is the perfect accompaniment to vodka.

Katia is a big dirty martin fan, and it was her idea to use the brine from the pickled tomatoes in this drink, and it was sensational, it worked brilliantly and gave the drink a lovely manly rose hue.

I’ve also solved my lack of a shaker issue, using the empty tomato jar with its screw on lid, which is the perfect size for two drinks.

When we get back to London I’m visiting the Russian supermarket around the corner to stock up on these, they’re also brilliant to eat while sipping on vodka.

This is a drink I will definitely go back to.