Dan Aykroyd: 10 ways to get the most out of vodka (just don't get arrested like I did)

Aykroyd pouring a drink
Aykroyd owns the Crystal Head Vodka line Credit: getty images europe

Comedian, actor, screenwriter, producer, musician, and, more recently, vodka entrepreneur: Dan Aykroyd's shot glass runneth over.

There are few better placed to relate precisely how best to enjoy the spirit, and we'll get to that momentarily. First, though, how not  to enjoy it?

He starts firing rock salt pellets at us. Bam! Bam! Bam! We tear out of there

Telegraph Food and Drink caught up with Aykroyd over a pair of espresso martinis, and the Ghostbusters star explained how, as a 14-year-old Canadian schoolboy tagging along with older boys, he embarked on a drinking trip that went awry.

"Some of my fellow seminarians," he said – they all attended St Pious Minor Preparatory Seminary for Boys, Ottawa – "decided that since the drinking age in New York State was 18, we would go down there, purchase a bottle of vodka and have ourselves a little party."

'To this day I cannot look at a bottle of Fresca without being sick' Credit: getty images

Seven of them piled into a Vauxhall Viva and drove to the town of Messina, just south of the border. They bought a bottle of vodka and another of Fresca (which, for UK readers, is like a lemony Fanta).  "To this day," Aykroyd said ruefully, "I cannot look at a bottle of Fresca without being sick because of the following episode."

They drove into the backroads to find somewhere to drink the concoction, hopped over a fence, and sat in a meadow. Soon enough they were raucously drunk – "And then all of a sudden a silhouette of a shotgun appears."

It was the farmer, whose 'Trespassers will be shot' sign they'd all missed. "He starts firing rock salt pellets at us. Bam! Bam! Bam! We tear out of there."

Having escaped in the car, they drove to the local diner, but were so rowdy the waitress called 911. In walked the chief of Messina police, who promptly arrested the whole crew.

They spent a night in the cells, and Aykroyd was forced to call his father to bail him out. Whereupon it emerged that, as a 14-year-old, he fell below the minimum age (15) at which someone can be locked up in New York State. He was free – with the apologies of the chief of police.

His father was less pliable. "That was the longest, slowest, quietest ride I've ever had back. He took the belt to me that night, the only time he ever did. That was the drunkest I've ever been, I spent the night in a Messina jail, and you know what? It taught me real good about consuming alcohol in excess!"

Well then. Do as Dan Aykroyd says, not as Dan Aykroyd did. And so to his ten tips for enjoying vodka... as an adult.

Aykroyd (right) in The Campaign Credit: Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

1. The product

"Look for cleanliness," he says. "The purity of the water, the quality of manufacture." He can't resist the opportunity to plug his Crystal Head line, but also recommends Reyka vodka for its lack of additives, fusel oil, glyceride, sugar and so on – ingredients often found in other vodkas. "I want a nice clean taste."

2. The equipment

"You've got to have a shaker, you've got to have your ice, and you've got to have a designated area to do it. And proper glassware."

3. The glassware

You'll be familiar with the traditional V-shaped martini glass neck, and the stumpier form of the tumbler and shot glass. But why are the shapes important? 

"A martini glass is great because it opens it up to the air, it oxygenates the beverage, and then if you want the tumbler it's more for stability in a bar, a busy bar, or if you're in motion on a train, for instance, you want a tumbler. And then the shot glass is a perennial, but every shot glass should have a really thick bottom to it."

A (very upmarket) martini glass Credit: john lewis

4. The company

"Pick who you're drinking with. Trusted friends and family that you've known for years."

5. The venue

"In Canada that would be the campfire, in front of a farmhouse, or on an island. A Canadian night where the temperature is at 80°F (27°C), and the lake is lapping on the shore." A man can dream.

6. The soundtrack

"There'll be three or four of us that'll have guitars and harmonicas and we'll be able to sing and play."

Aykroyd (far right) in Ghostbusters II (1989) Credit: Moviestore Collection

7. The highball recipe

A simple cocktail to start with. "I take a tumbler with ice cubes and then I will take fresh-squeezed clementine juice, take two-and-a-half ounces of the vodka, very slowly infuse it, just as if it's an egg yolk going in there. Watch it yellow up slowly and then give it a stir – that's it."

8. The martini recipe

A little more highbrow. Here's Aykroyd's Bar Car Martini recipe: "Two-and-a-half ounces of vodka, rinsed with the vermouth just so there's a little touch of it. And then olives and a pearl onion. That's the Long Island Railroad 1955 Bar Car Martini."

Aykroyd attending the premiere of 'Get On Up' in 2014 Credit: evan agostini/invision

9. The technique

If you're having a shot, make sure the shot glass is fresh from the freezer.  "Cold, cold, cold. Sip it, feel the natural viscosity, the smoothness, let it go down and you feel that fire. The fire is a taste that has to be acquired. It's kind of neat, that thing on the tongue. Pleasant. And then you have another sip, and maybe shoot the rest."

10. The goal

"I'm looking for a warmth in the stomach, and then after three or four shots, general feeling of well-being and warmth throughout the body, and we don't want to go beyond that."