I’m reading the wonderful Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami and I came across this cocktail description:

A Balalaika is made with one part each of vodka, Cointreau, and lemon juice. A simple concoction, but unless it’s as bitingly freezing as the North Pole, it doesn’t taste good. If somebody who doesn’t have the right touch mixes it, it ends up tasting diluted, watery. This Balalaika was amazingly delicious, with an almost perfect bite to it.

Naturally, I had to try it. While I wasn’t certain I had the “right touch” I feel the same way about The Last Word. Mixed perfectly it is amazing but it is surprisingly easy to get wrong. I am also very partial to cocktails where all the ingredients are of equal proportions. Not only are they unusual, if you can remember the ingredients you can remember how to make them.

  • 1.25 ounces vodka
  • 1.25 ounces Cointreau
  • 1.25 ounces lemon

Shake all ingredients over ice and strain into a chilled glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Vodka is not a main ingredient in classic cocktails so I don’t make many drinks with it, but I really liked this book so I decided to try it out.

It’s nice and refreshing, but as I drank it I couldn’t help but think it would have been better with gin. Still, on a hot day I could probably down a pitcher of these.

Rating: 3/5 – I struggled between giving this a four or a three. It is one of the most 3.5 cocktails I’ve made. But in the end it was the lack of anything that made this one stand out that demoted it.

Notes: I don’t have much vodka but I keep a bottle of Absolut in the freezer. Since the recipe said the drink needed to be really cold, I used it.

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