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Penne Alla Vodka Recipe

Vodka in pasta sauce. While this sounds like the kind of forward-thinking you’d expect from the Vodka of Tomorrow, the origins of Penne Alla Vodka are a little unclear.

Is it authentically Italian? Was it created in America and portrayed as ‘authentically Italian’? All we know for sure is that rich pasta sauce made with tomatoes, cream, and a splash of vodka became very popular across the USA during the 1970s and 1980s.

Why add Broken Shed Vodka to pasta sauce?

It’s a great question. Does adding Broken Shed Vodka make any difference at all to the pasta? The truth is, yes. The science backs it up. Like most things in life, including Broken Shed Vodka, the answer is enjoying everything in moderation. 

If we go right down to a molecular level, the alcohol molecule is similar to a sugar molecule, and has a slightly sweet taste. Too much alcohol, like in spirits with a high proof or ABV, and those molecules can overwhelm and bind other aromas. In other words, you get that “hot” sensation in your mouth and you have trouble tasting anything else.

On the other hand, at low concentrations around 1% or less, alcohol actually enhances fruity esters plus other flavour and aroma molecules.

So, adding too much alcohol, or not allowing enough time for cooking, can overpower your dish. Get the balance right, and your Penne Alla Vodka is simultaneously rich with cream, while the sharp, bright flavours from the vodka and crushed red peppercut through.

Seriously, try this recipe both with and without adding Broken Shed Vodka and you’ll see exactly what we mean.


  • 1lb or 450g of Penne
  • 1/4lb or 113g of Prosciutto (optional)
  • 3 cloves of thinly sliced garlic
  • 3/4 cup of cream
  • 3-4 tablespoons of Broken Shed Vodka
  • 1 28oz can (or 2 400g cans) of whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
  • 1 stem of basil
  • 1/4 cup of parsley, finely diced for garnish
  • 1/2 cup of grated parmesan for garnish
  • 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • Salt & pepper


  1. Thinly slice the garlic and puree your tomatoes in a food mill or a blender. It’s optional, but if you like a salty hit of prosciutto, cut it into little strips.
  2. Get a pot of salted water on the stove for the pasta and a wide-bottomed pan next to it to cook the sauce. 
  3. Bring the extra virgin olive oil in the pan to a medium-high heat.
  4. If you’re using prosciutto, wait for it to crisp before adding the basil and garlic. 
  5. When you start to see the garlic browning, it's time to deglaze and stop cooking. 
  6. Timing is everything. You want the garlic to cook and the prosciutto to crisp, without burning either of them. 
  7. Turn the heat off for a minute before adding the 3 - 4 tablespoons of Broken Shed Vodka. Let the Broken Shed sizzle and calm down before turning the heat back on and heavily reducing the vodka.
  8. Now add the tomatoes. Cook the tomatoes on medium heat until they become thick. You can tell how thick the tomatoes are by dragging a flat wooden spoon across the pan. If you can see the bottom of the pan for a few seconds before the sauce closes in, that’s the consistency you’re looking for.
  9. Once most of the water is cooked out and you can see the bottom of the pan when you mix the sauce, it's time to add the cream. Bring the sauce to a simmer for a few minutes to thicken. 
  10. Cook the penne in the hot salted water. Once the pasta is al dente, drain and transfer to the sauce. Allow the pasta to sit with the sauce for a couple of minutes until fully coated.
  11. Drop in 1-2 tablespoons of cold butter and a little pasta water to control the consistency of the sauce and get it just the way you like it.
  12. Don’t wait until tomorrow. Serve this delicious Penne Alla Vodka immediately with parmesan and fresh parsley. 

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