One of my dear friends spent her university years in Italy, and is as a result a very fine purveyor of Italian cuisine. She recently supplied me with a recipe for her personal version of penne alla vodka. Here it is, straight from the horse's mouth: My main question: why cook with vodka? I can understand a sauce with sherry, cognac, wine - heck, even Jack Daniels - because they all add flavour. Good vodka doesn't taste like much, and I was under the impression that the alcohol evaporates out anyway. I shot back an email to my friend asking her about this. Here's her reply: I'm stumped - is she correct? If so, then why do so many recipes call for vodka that is not steeped in pepper?