Vodka: How a Colorless, Odorless, Flavorless Spirit Conquered America

By Victorino Matus

It begun as toxic rotgut in Medieval Russia—Ivan the negative loved it, Peter the good loved it—but this grain alcohol “without distinct personality, aroma, style, or colour” has turn into our uncontested king of spirits. Over 1000 manufacturers struggle for marketplace proportion, shelved in glass skulls, Tommy weapons, bulletproof bottles; flavored with pears, currants, chipotle; or quintuple distilled through Donald Trump. however it wasn’t regularly hence. For 2 hundred years, the USA drank the brown stuff, which gave us Colonial rumrunners, the Whiskey uprising, and Bourbon County, Kentucky. So how did Russia’s “little water,” initially a medieval rotgut medication, unseat America’s favourite hooch? Vic Matus takes us on an enormous visible trip from vodka’s humble American origins in a Depression-era Connecticut factory—using the relations recipe from a bad Russian exile in France named Vladimir Smirnov—through its upward thrust to glamour and popularity by the hands of James Bond and the Nineties growth enshrined in Sex and the City’s gray Goose Cosmos to today’s craft distillery circulation, which techniques the drink as an paintings shape. You’ll see in transparent, intoxicating element how hippie tradition, women’s lib, and a completely inventive Swedish corporation all performed their half, reworking the booze right into a prestige image. by means of 1975, the battle had ended: Vodka formally grew to become our favourite spirit. at the present time, a 3rd of all cocktails ordered include it. final 12 months $20 billion in revenues poured in from greater than a hundred and forty million gallons of the stuff. here's the crisply distilled, bracing tale of the way risk-taking marketers defied the chances and grew to become medieval medication right into a multibillion-dollar industry.

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I t started as rotgut medication in Medieval Russia—Ivan the poor loved it, Peter the good enjoyed it—but this impartial grain alcohol has develop into our uncontested king of spirits, with over one thousand manufacturers battling for marketplace percentage, bottled in glass skulls, Tommy weapons, and bulletproof bottles and flavored with pears, currants, or açaí berries. however it wasn’t continuously so. for 2 centuries the USA drank the brown stuff: the rum and whiskey that gave us colonial rumrunners, the Whiskey uprising, and Bourbon County, Kentucky. So how did Russia’s “little water” unseat our favourite hooch? Victorino Matus takes us on a massive visible trip from vodka’s humble American origins in a Depression-era Connecticut factory—using the relations recipe from a bad Russian exile named Vladimir Smirnov— via its glamorous upward thrust to repute by the hands of James Bond and intercourse and town to today’s craft distillery circulation. You’ll see in transparent, intoxicating element how hippie tradition, women’s lib, and a completely inventive Swedish corporation all performed an element in reworking the booze right into a prestige image. via 1976 the warfare had ended: Vodka formally turned our favourite spirit. this day a 3rd of all cocktails include it, and final yr 157 million gallons of the stuff racked up $5. 6 billion in revenues. this is the crisply distilled, bracing tale of ways marketers defied the percentages and grew to become medieval medication right into a multibilliondollar undefined. 5/8/14 12:19 PM “Make mine a double! I’ll be analyzing Vodka greater than as soon as, and that i don’t know the way ‘Colorless, Odorless, Flavorless’ acquired into the subtitle of this brilliant, stinky, and savory publication. ” MATUS enhance compliment FOR VODKA —P. J. O’ROURKE —TUCKER CARLSON “An first-class ebook on a spirit striking for being unremarkable, Vodka is an excellent social background, an incisive examine of industrial and advertising, and many enjoyable to learn. ” —MICHAEL RUHLMAN, manhattan Times–bestselling and James Beard– and IACP @VictorinoMatus Award–winning writer of The Soul of a Chef, The French Laundry Cookbook (with Thomas Keller), Charcuterie, and Ruhlman’s Twenty. “Vodka made me giggle, study, imagine, and take pleasure in the adventure. On each web page, i presumed: i need one now. placed this nice ebook by itself shelf with a tall bottle of vodka subsequent to it. You’ll like it. ” —LARRY MILLER, actor, comic, and host of This Week with Larry Miller “Matus’s booklet is whatever yet bland. He publications us throughout the background of ways this colorless drink grew to become the most well-liked tipple in the US by way of blending a cocktail of anthropological perception and reportorial legwork, dashed with an ideal degree of tongue-in-cheek wit. ” —MAX WATMAN, writer of Harvest and Chasing the White puppy “With a company writer’s acumen, Victorino Matus conscientiously brings the cloudy global of the overseas vodka into concentration. either millionaire distillers and mom-and-pop operations invite him within their global, the place he explores great rates, superstar endorsements, the flavour craze, and the seamier part of the undefined.

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