Orson Salicetti is as delightful as the cocktails he makes. We talked after the opening of a Russian-backed vodka cocktail bar, where he explored all the possibilities of vodka with…—fill in the blank. Here,  he shares a healthy and enticing vodka cocktail with vanilla.

A trip to the Russian-themed Ariana Restaurant will leave your taste buds and mind happy as you savor interesting flavors mixed with Russia’s top spirit: vodka. With a focus on over forty different varieties, this newcomer SoHo spot offers an impressive cocktail list crafted by Salicetti, who won the prestigious Rising Star Award from StarChef in 2009.

Salicetti’s Craft Vodka Bar’s menu has many sections. First off are the specialty, seasonal cocktails, like the T&T (tarragon-infused vodka, fresh tangerine, fino sherry, lime, agave, and soda) or the Spicy Beauty (spiced blood orange liqueur, vodka, habanero elixir, and sparkling wine). Move onto the aged vodkas, stored in oak barrels for a minimum of six weeks to give them a soft finish. The Ariana Soho Aged Martini (vodka, Benedictine liqueur, Atsby vermouth, and decanter bitters) is a popular offering, and it’s as flavorful as it is potent.

The last bit of the menu pushes the stalwart patrons of those who stick to the order of “vodka with soda” to try a conglomeration of things, like one with infusions of fig, lavender, and fresh herbs.

The only real dilemma here is choosing what to order, which Salicetti is more than happy to help you with. And, even though trying one of their extensive vodka offerings is encouraged, Salicetti promises that if you want an Old Fashioned, he’ll make it for you. [ANNOUNCEMENT: THIS PLACE HAS CLOSED, BUT I HOPE YOU WILL LOVE THE RECIPE AND THE MEMORIES]