Archive | August, 2015

VODKA – is it taste, ingredients, or who you are trying to impress? How do YOU choose? – Cont….

18 Aug


You know the feeling – you walk into a dimly lit, hip bistro or the newest nightclub. You’ve got your trendy threads on, you’re looking the part! James Bond or Marilyn have nothing on you! Your game is on! You slink up to the bar and order… A beer – NO!….  A screwdriver – NO!….. An extra dry, dirty martini, neat, shaken – not stirred – YES! You are so cool!

The enticing bartender asks you, “Which vodka would you like?” Looking distinguished, you look her in the eyes with that twinkle of an educated mixologist, and say “Ketel One, please.” Because you are trying to look oh so well off and nothing looks wealthier than old money – or an old vodka that has been distilling the same spirits for 325 years old – but you really didn’t know that. You saw some other cool dude order it so you figure that is the right choice! Or maybe you say, “Tito’s” because it is gluten free and made from 100% corn – but you really didn’t know that either, the stunning bartender suggested Tito’s so you went with it!

Now you are in the liquor store choosing vodka for your home bar. What to do, what to do? So, you purchase the SKYY because you love the bottle! Or the Absolut because it looks good on your shelf. Or maybe the CÎroc because you know Sean “Diddy” Combs was somehow involved! (He is actually a partner with Diagoe’s Cîroc). It is all a bunch of “stuff” vodka marketers have put into your thoughts!

Just like the car you drive, we feel the vodka we drink or purchase says something about our character. Marketing departments push these notions to their limits and encourage this behavior! I guess that is what marketing is all about – making the consumer feel good about their purchase and as knowledgeable as they sip their cocktail. Everyone wants a VIP experience!

Taking this “blank canvas”, many brands have created flavors enabling any at-home mixologist to become a bartender “hack”! You can creating the most exotic cocktails by just mixing a curiously flavored vodka with Schwepps Club Soda and a fruity slice of something or other! Voila – you are a cocktail aficionado!

Pineapple, Vanilla, Chocolate Truffles, Mangos & Melons, Cynamon, Karamel (spell it odd and suddenly it is exotic!), Cytron, Expresso, Double Expresso, Bizon Grass, Apple Cider, Grapefruit & Jalapeno (really!), Cucumber, Tomato, Lemon, Cookie Dough, Rainbow Sherbet Salted Carmel, Pistachio, PBJ – Doritos doesn’t even have that many flavors! And… These are only some of the favors!

Rice, Rye (Sobieski and Belvedere swear by 100% Dankowski Rye), Wheat (Absolut’s Elyx is based on “single-estate wheat” from a Råbelöf Castle that has been producing that wheat since the 1400s. Then you have Potato, Barley, Quinoa (yes, I said quinoa!), fruits, vegetables, “untouched” water from Finland, pure water from “deep beneath Idaho’s Snake River, water from an Alaskan Glacier – all different, all in the making of vodka. Devotion says it uses non-GMO corn (non-genetically modified); Chopin released a trio of single-ingredient vodkas using potato, rye and wheat. Vodka is the easiest and most efficient to produce of all the spirits. There are no standards dictating what the base ingredient must be in distilling vodka. There is no aging involved, so it can go right from the still to the bottle enabling distilleries to generate revenue right from the get go.

ORGANIC – what exactly does that mean with vodka? To be Certified Organic, the grain or product used must come from “healthy soil, free of artificial fertilizers, pesticides and chemicals.”

Wikipedia says:

  • avoidance of synthetic chemical inputs (e.g. fertilizer, pesticides, antibiotics, food additives), genetic modification, irradiation, and the use of sewage sludge;
  • use of farmland that has been free from prohibited chemical inputs for a number of years (often, three or more);
  • for livestock, adhering to specific requirements for feed, housing, and breeding;
  • keeping detailed written production and sales records (audit trail);
  • maintaining strict physical separation of organic products from non-certified products;
  • under going periodic on-site inspections.

Every brand has its unique marketing campaign. 360’s “Close the Loop” program using swing-top bottles which are reusable. They have reused 50,000 swing-tops and donated $1 for each to Global Green USA, Svedka’s “Limited Party Edition” with their “stars and stripes” bottles each summer. Stoli has been aggressive on marketing front becoming a leader in supporting LGBT events and issues. Absolut’s new Absolut Nights campaign with their limited edition illuminated Absolut Spark Bottles that literally light up from the top and illuminate the faux cut crystal bottle.

When it comes down to the final decision – what to drink, what to purchase – it is a personal affair. Like many other products that carry an aurora of luxury, style and class – drink a quality vodka for its own sake. Please your own sense of flavor and fun. The marketing campaign by Diageo’s Smirnoff which taps into the vodka “attitude” with the line, “Exclusively for Everyone” pokes fun at the pretention-ness of some high-end vodkas. There is a time and a place for them all.

Hey – what about Mr. Boston!


VODKA – is it taste, ingredients, or who you are trying to impress? How do YOU choose? (VOL 1)

7 Aug

The Vodka market has grown into a huge array of choices. Unusual flavors, healthy varieties, the “Russian-ness”, the image factor…. With so many possible brands and varietals, each has needed to come up with their own distinctive marketing to standing out. When making a decision to purchase or choosing which to put into your martini – what do you think about?

In the article titled “Vodka” in Beveragemedia – Upstate Edition July 2015, they start the piece with “Despite the spirit’s decidedly Eastern European origins, the story of vodka in the United States is like a metaphor for the American Dream: essentially making something out of nothing. The ‘nothing’ in question is the notion that vodka is, by definition, a neutral spirit without color, flavor or odor. It’s the ultimate blank canvas; its value is derived from savvy marketing and being able to tell a good brand story.”

Sleek packaging, unusual flavor combinations, unique base ingredient, unique marketing, individual distilling methods, even a perfect stalk of prairie grass, gives each brand their distinctive twist.

In VOL 2 I will go into details about ICONS & LUXURY, FLAVORS, INGREDIENTS, and my conclusion on the topic! I will post this later next week….

Cya in Saratoga!

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