Well, duh. I was not sucked in. For the cost of the filters I could just buy better vodka. But when I started infusing vodkas, it seemed worthwhile to see if I could take the edge off the cheap vodka and make it more palatable.
I sent an e-mail to some friends asking if they had an extra water filter pitcher around the house that they weren't using. I explained my intentions, and within 48 hours I had three filter pitchers on my doorstep.
I tested the filtering theory alongside my neighbor Dave. We used Phillips Vodka 80. I buy it because it's made locally. At $7 for a fifth, it's cheap but still comes in a glass bottle.
First we tasted the unfiltered Phillips. I warned Dave that I would be blogging about this and that he would be expected to describe the experience. After a sniff and a sip, he threw back the rest of the shot and said, "Teeth. It's got teeth."
My first reaction was to note that drinking this vodka was similar to getting my nose too close to a bottle of rubbing alcohol. Like a medical emergency, drinking cheap, room-temperature vodka straight makes me feel like something is very broken. Suddenly I was Kitty Dukakis drinking rubbing alcohol straight out of the medicine cabinet during the 1988 presidential campaign. I would go so far as to call it a Kitty Cocktail, but that would not be funny. For at least three reasons.
Then we sampled some vodka that had been through all three of the filter pitchers. Dave sniffed and sipped, putting on his best impartial judgment face, then threw back the shot. "The teeth," he said with rising inflection and rising eyebrows, "They're gone." He looked for the teeth on the bottom of the glass. And then he looked for them on the floor.
As for me, I took the second shot and tasted none of the rubbing alcohol burn. This was some significantly improved vodka.