Like so many things, it started out as a joke.
Standing at the checkout of Lee’s Discount Liquor, I scooped up an airline-size bottle of UV cake-flavored liquor. It was the same impulse that bought the alcoholic ice pop that’s been in my freezer for six months. The bottle rolled around the liquor cabinet amid the other unused minis for a while. (Tiny pomegranate schnapps, anyone? Limoncello? And if you know what Unterberg is, you’re welcome to it.) One day, I dimly recalled someone telling me that cake vodka and ginger ale was good and mixed one up. And, indeed, it was good … but you know what would be even better? Cake vodka and root beer! And, indeed, that was better. So my shameful fondness for cake-flavored vodka was born.
Cake vodka gears drinks toward the dessert-ish, adding an extra element that vanilla vodka doesn’t quite possess, although there is some similarity.<strong> Burgers & Bottles</strong> (450 S. Rampart Blvd., 431-5453) mostly trades in burgers and bottles — both beer and wine — but also features vodka-spiked milkshakes. The bright, airy space overlooks a quaint Tuscan village of overpriced boutiques: The clientele is bag-heavy and here for the shopping, Summerlin locals in for the happy hour and weekend families waiting for their milkshakes. A retro-tiled counter spins up regular vanilla and chocolate, but the real attraction is the “adult” milkshakes and the Hostess with the mostess is a standout — vanilla ice cream, cake-flavored vodka and an entire Hostess cupcake floating on top, its cursive curls of white frosting looping across the chocolate topping just like you remembered. But now with a special new kick to back it up.
But perhaps cake-flavor liquor is not enough — not in a world of root beer vodka and bubble gum vodka and Fruit Loop vodka. So how about cake’s close relative, whipped cream vodka?<strong> The Gold Spike </strong>(217 Las Vegas Blvd. North, 384-8444) sometimes features specials on Smirnoff whipped (cream) and (marshmallow) fluff. Sure, it’s still got cheap Tequila shots like it did back when it also handed out 40s to slot players and the infamous “Vegas stench” occasionally lingered. Now that’s it’s a sleek little casino with black leather upholstery and amber lighting, perhaps a more chic — or at least sweeter — option is in order.
Whipped cream vodka with orange juice is entirely Creamsicle — someone needs to do a Good Humor Man-inspired drink menu with this stuff. Fluff vodka makes a hell of a White Russian, with a taste I can only describe as toasted marshmallow snowglobe sugar coma. Sip yours as you watch the guys in cargo shorts and fresh haircuts, often accompanied by girlfriends in one of the five stages of Lohan: ingénue, glamour girl, debauchee, train wreck and two-train derailment killing dozens and spilling thousands of gallons of toxic waste. But I bet they all drink whippedfluffcake vodka.
The list of house cocktails at <strong>Elements Kitchen & Martini Bar</strong> (4950 S. Rainbow Blvd., 750-2991) easily tops 100, and whipped cream vodka has found its way onto the roster. Most of the beverages are bakery-inspired, like the mint chocolate cookie, which mixes Pinnacle-whipped and chocolate-whipped vodka, crème de menthe, crème de cacao with a motherlode of miniature chocolate chips melting slowly at the bottom. Yes, the temptation to lick the glass is strong, but resist! This place is full of grown-ups and most of them are regulars, and even worse than someone watching you do something childish and kinda gross is them remembering it the next time they see you. Just order another one instead. Perhaps the Oreo cookie. Or the strawberry shortcake. The lemon meringue pie blends Limoncello and whipped vodka with a golden sugared rim and tastes an awful lot like … lemon meringue pie. Which brings me to the other point about the cake, the whipped and the marshmallow: Try to remember that it’s not just a dessert, it’s also a cocktail.
Cake-flavored vodka has become a regular in my home liquor cabinet — although not mandatory, like absinthe, Jameson’s or that bottle of Triple Sec that’s gonna be there until the apocalypse. It actually offers a quite a few mixing options, and is the main ingredient in my favorite new summer libation: San Pellegrino Limonata soda with Three Olives cake vodka over ice. I call it the yellow cake, as it smoothly blends sweetness with lemon and the bubbles of a celebration. Everybody has their drink that’s a little embarrassing — the watery beer of nostalgia, the sugary drink of the quick buzz. Why not make it a party?