A friend who works as a spirits broker informs me that the liquor companies release two or three new flavors of vodka every week. In a normal economy, he says the output would be double.
The full impact of this factoid hit me recently, when I received a flurry of press releases about new flavors of infused vodka. From Pinnacle, owned by White Rock Distillers, there was cotton candy and whipped cream. One step further out, from Three Olives, was “the world’s first root beer flavored vodka.” This release included recipes to help us celebrate National Root Beer Float Day, which occured on August 6. Stuff like this makes you think that the Baptists and Mormons were right all along.
I remember when infused vodka first hit the market, because I was still working as a sommelier at the time. Even as a succession of liquor reps tried to convince me to do an infusion at the bar, I thought that five gallons of pineapple vodka would be far more than a lifetime supply for every customer we were likely to attract. Apparently this was true, because shortly afterward the distillers began creating flavored vodkas in liter bottles.
There’s a long tradition of infused vodka in many parts of the world, particularly in colder climates. Pepper vodka is popular in Russia, and nearly four dozen varieties of herb-infused vodka are made in Sweden.
The closer you look at flavored vodkas in this country, the worse it gets. There’s coffee-infused vodka, for those who want to relax and rev up all at once. A new brand called Devotion Vodka offers infused protein, for those body builders who can’t get along without cocktails. Perhaps the ultimate is Bakon Vodka, produced by Black Rock Spirits in Seattle, and currently only available in a handful of states (thankfully not including this one). If you’re a do-it-yourself type, you could always soak the vodka in bacon for several weeks and get the same effect.
The really hot trend at the moment among the do-it-yourself crowd seems to be Skittles. This one is popular because it can be prepared overnight. After the outer coating and flavoring have dissolved, you’ll need to strain the remaining Skittle matter out of the vodka. Purists (or those with too much time on their hands) sort the bag of Skittles into five different flavors and do separate infusions.
We all know where this is heading, and the person to figure it out will become richer than Bill Gates: Viagra Vodka. Watch for it.