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Trevor Schneider of Reyka Vodka Talks Lava Rock Filtration Mechanisms and Winter Cocktails

Written By: Elaine Morgan Cutting
Photographed By: Darryl Milana

Expert: Trevor Schneider
Credentials: Reyka Vodka Brand Ambassador

This winter is the best season to get your vodka cocktail fix. The warm spice of a great vodka are sure to fight back the chill of the Southern California winter season, and a great mix for this is the incredibly unique Icelandic Reyka Vodka. We met with national ambassador for Reyka Vodka with William Grant & Sons, Trevor Schneider, at the beautiful resort and restaurant The Ranch at Laguna Beach on a rainy winter day to talk a little bit about himself, Iceland, Reyka Vodka, and the fantastic possibilities it provides this winter season.

Q: How did you get involved with Reyka?

Trevor Schneider: I’ve worked in hospitality for about 10 years, mostly in New York, but also in the south of France and Australia. I worked in many different positions in the restaurant industry. I ended up behind the bar, managing and creating cocktails, and then traveling for events. I had the chance to manage an after-party for the Cannes Film Festival. I was also brought to Sydney Australia as a New York training specialist. These experiences helped me prepare for my job with William Grant & Sons.

Q: What makes Reyka Vodka unique?

TS: Reyka Vodka is the only Icelandic vodka in the United States. Iceland has arguably some of the purest water in the world which makes up for about 60 percent of the final product, so it’s a major component in the production and flavor. We use a Carter-Head Still, one of six in the world and the only one to distill vodka. It is predominantly made of copper which helps to round out and smooth out the spirit. It takes six hours and produces a thousand liters or 255 cases. That’s what we like to call, small batch.

Q: How does Reyka’s Icelandic origin give it an advantage in flavor and production?

TS: There are over 200 volcanoes, of which 30 of them are still active. Our distillery is 100 percent powered by that geothermal energy. It’s clean energy, so there’s no impact on the environment. We use lava rock as our filtration mechanism, which is a natural, effective, efficient way to remove impurities.

Q: What are some great winter cocktails for this season?

TS: First and foremost, the Five-to-One Reyka Vodka martini, which is a great cocktail to emphasize the flavor profile of Reyka Vodka. In a martini, you’re not trying to cloud it with a bunch of ingredients. It’s only vermouth, vodka, and chilling it down with the ice. The second cocktail is the Reyka Vodka South Side which consists of Reyka Vodka, lime juice, simple syrup and fresh mint. The last one is a cocktail that I created, the Little Devil, which is a fun and refreshing cocktail that was inspired by the cayenne lemonade cleanse. It’s Reyka Vodka, Ancho Reyes chili liqueur, fresh lemon juice, maple syrup, and club soda.

Q: What would you suggest pairing with these cocktails?

TS: The martini would go great with any type of fish, sushi and sashimi style. Smoked fish would be great as well. The South Side would go well with something more on the savory side. And the Little Devil is light and refreshing, so anything from fresh ingredients like a salad or avocado and toast.

Q: Have you been able to visit Iceland and see the process and how it’s made?  

TS: I’ve had the opportunity to visit in Iceland four times. It’s a great opportunity to spend time with the master distiller. He is the man behind every single bottle of Reyka Vodka. He is also a policeman, a fireman, and a father of three.

Q: What’s your favorite part about Iceland?

TS: There’s a town on the south side of the island called Vik. They have black lava rock sand beaches. It is certainly a unique sight to see with your own eyes. It’s just beautiful. The glaciers and the waterfalls as well, but I’m privy to the beach. I had never seen a different color sand before.

Q: What is your favorite way to drink Reyka Vodka?

TS: My favorite way is in a glass. You don’t really need anything else. No ice. Just drinking it neat is usually the way that I choose to consume it.

We got a chance to taste a few different styles of Reyka, which was fantastic, of course. Trevor shared a brief description of the complexities found in a straight glass.

TS: It starts off a little sweet and then it moves on to some citrus notes. Then there’s a little bit of heat or spice, kind of like white pepper. Then there is a distinct mouthfeel with weight or viscosity. Finally, there is refined character and it finishes round. It’s a vodka flavored vodka.

Photoshoot Location:
The Ranch at Laguna Beach
S 31106 Coast Hwy
Laguna Beach, CA 92651  
Winter Cocktails with Reyka Vodka