619 Spirits North Park is the tasting room and eatery for its mothership, 619 Vodka. Both were named for San Diego’s area code, but that doesn’t mean 619’s founder and master distiller Nick Apostolopoulos is calling it when he batches out a crop of the clear stuff. In a city where cocktail culture depends on a variety of spirit-forward flavors—and many of its bartenders might find vodka about as exciting as a glass of water—the timeless vogue of vodka, 619 Spirits bar manager Elizabeth Larios says, always eclipses the Latest Taste.
“Vodka on its own is such a neutral spirit that it provides the ingredients added to it an opportunity to shine,” she says. “As a bartender, I like having a spirit that is so versatile.”
For this reason, Larios says, 619 didn’t have to look far to find the perfect delivery vehicle for its 619 Coffee Vodka. The Dude indeed abides, and Larios believes he would very much abide by 619’s send-up of the White Russian.
619 was challenged. How to top the perfection already inherent in the Dude’s preferred beverage? Fool the vodka into playing nice with a coffee infusion without sacrificing texture and integrity. Easy, right?
“Nick’s biggest obstacle was getting the coffee grind to such a fine degree that it becomes unnoticeable,” Larios says. “He had to tinker with how fine to grind, and also what micron of filtering we were going to use.”
Most of what 619’s White Russian offers is mostly what The Dude would expect—at least on first impression.
“It’s a creamy, coffee-forward drink,” Larios says. But here’s the thing—rather than taking the usual path to sugar, 619 Coffee Vodka remains committed to caffeine, Larios says, “because we infuse the coffee ourselves and there is a slight bit of caffeine to the drink. A regular White Russian will give you the punch of vodka without so much of the coffee flavor. There is also more mellow to the flavor palate in 619’s version, but you still get a buzz from the vodka.”
Take note, Dude.
619’s White Russian
1 1/2 oz. 619 Coffee Vodka
1/2 oz. Simple Syrup
1 ½ oz. Half-and-Half
Dry-shake ingredients in cocktail shaker, pour into an Old Fashioned glass over ice, and garnish with pinch of cinnamon powder.