New Mongolian Vodka Targets Manly Men

Walk into your local liquor store and head to the vodka section. What do you see? Vodka from Russia, Poland, France, America. Wheat vodka, rye vodka, potato vodka. Vodka filtered through charcoal, silver, diamonds. Organic vodka. Light vodka. Vodka with a programmable LED screen on the bottle. Vodka in a bottle shaped like a skull. Vodka that tastes like marshmallows, whipped cream, birthday cake. It’s overwhelming, and makes me wonder why anybody would launch a new vodka brand amid all that competition. Oh yeah, because it’s the best-selling spirit in the U.S. by a mile, with 10 of the top 24 booze brands being vodka, including numbers one through five. I guess that means there’s still some room for innovation, and, as they say in the marketing business, "product and peripheral differentiation."

And so, in the midst of this crowded, competitive, but still fertile market comes a brand new vodka with its own unique platform. It’s called Golia, and it’s from Mongolia. It piqued my interest because I don’t know of any other vodkas from Mongolia. There are some other differences, such as how it’s distilled through silver and platinum filters at least six times, and how it’s won some awards, but every vodka’s sales pitch includes similar claims. It’s the Mongolianness of Golia that’s unique. In practical terms that means it’s made with high-quality wheat grown in mineral-rich soil and really clean water. (Apparently the water in Mongolia is so clear that lake fish are visible 50 feet below the surface.)

Beyond that, it’s all about what they do with the Mongolian thing in their marketing. Well, how would you market a Mongolian vodka? You’d probably target men, since what Americans know about Mongolia is pretty much limited to Genghis Khan, warriors on horseback, and maybe something about falconry. And that’s exactly what Golia is doing. They’re aiming Golia at tough, rugged, adventurous guys, or guys who think they’re tough, rugged, and adventurous. They’re pricing it as a mid-range vodka, since cheap vodka is, well, cheap vodka, and there’s something effete and ridiculous about spending big bucks for a spirit that is, by definition, odorless, colorless, and tasteless. 

The tagline is "Prepare to be conquered," and I suppose that cuts both ways. The vodka will conquer the drinker, and the drinker will conquer the world. He may also wish to conquer the "Golia Girls" who will be part of the marketing campaign. Sadly, no photos of said girls were included on the flash drive. It’s also the official vodka of the Philadelphia Flyers and the New Jersey Devils, because they’re both hard-hitting sports teams with grit at their core. 

So there’s all that, but how does the stuff taste? I received a flask of it yesterday, and after passing it around the office a couple of times, I barely had any left to drink at home, over ice. But I managed to extract about a shot’s worth, and found it to be a crisp, smooth vodka with a slightly sweet edge and maybe the faintest note of grapes. My notes say that I found it to be the perfect vodka for galloping across the steppe on horseback and siring several thousand children, not that I’ve done that. 

So, Golia Vodka. It tastes good. It costs just a little bit more than Ketel One and a little bit less than Grey Goose. And it’s from Mongolia. Will it conquer the U.S.? Will it find a place on the VIP tables of nightclubs like GoldBar in New York? It’s an uphill battle, to be sure, but those Mongolians know how to scrap. I like their chances. 

Golia 2

[BlackBook New York Nightlife Guide; Golia Vodka Official Site; More by Victor Ozols; Follow Me on Twitter]

Vodka Visions: Absolut Commissions Artists to Transform Williamsburg

At first, the idea of brands underwriting artists to create large-scale works seems kind of wrong. After all, aren’t artists supposed to be totally independent, free to do their own weird things without the crass interference of money? But the more I think about it, the more it makes sense. After all, artists have relied on patrons and benefactors for centuries. And instead of some stuffy duke or prissy countess doing the bankrolling, these days it’s cool companies like Absolut that produce cool products I enjoy, like vodka. And so my existential crisis about covering Absolut Vodka’s artistic takeover of one block of North Sixth Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn–arguably the hippest block on the planet at the moment–lasted all of 7 seconds before I decided that the project–they’re calling it the "Open Canvas Initiative"– was cool, and I’m glad it happened. After all, how else can you get some of the most interesting artists working today to get together and create a wide-scale art free-for-all that anybody can enjoy? Best of all, they were left to do their own things, without a corporate logo in sight. 

And so on June 22, "Transformation Day," Absolut took over N. 6th between Wythe and Kent and let a bunch of artists go nuts, and funky things happened.

Things like Dev Harlan‘s "Parmenides 1" (main image), a large, multi-surfaced, semi-spherical sculpture with loops and lines and shades of black, pink, and blue that suggest to me the idea of infinity–and kind of make me want a martini, because I associate the purity of vodka with outer space. 

All We Need

Things like an 80-foot-long crocheted yarn fence by artist OLEK called "Forgotten Barrier" (above), which espouses the very reasonable message: "All we need is love and money." Seriously, love’s great, but so is a nice apartment to keep that love warm and dry. 

Rostarr

And things like Rostarr‘s "Magnus Solo (The Big Surge)," which recall the calligraphy-based art of Retna, and seems to contain a message that gets more profound the more you try to interpret it. Best to stand back a bit. 

There were other great artists involved too, watch the video above and peruse the microsite they created to see them all. If you’re really into it, get your art-loving self to San Francisco this August to catch the next installment.

In the meantime, you can make some mixological art of your own with the following recipe for the Absolut Open Canvas Cocktail, which sounds pretty good, despite its pinkness. It’s vodka, lemon, Pom, and club soda. It looks refreshing, delicious, and downright inspiring, and I wish I had one in front of me right now. I’m convinced I could accomplish great things. 

Open Canvas Cocktail

[Absolut Open Canvas Official Site; More by Victor Ozols; Follow me on Twitter]

Why Vodka is the King of Spirits

For a while there it looked like some other liquors might catch up, but in the end, vodka remains the clear frontrunner in U.S. spirit sales. As CNBC reports, ten of the top 24 spirit brands sold in the U.S.–including numbers one through five–are vodka, giving it a 31% share of the total market, followed by whisky at 22%. But I don’t need statistics to tell me this, because the evidence is everywhere.

Hang around any bar and eavesdrop on the drink orders. Vodka tonic, vodka soda, vodka and Coke, vodka rocks. Two years ago at the Vesper Bar in Las Vegas, a temple to high-end mixology if there ever was one, I was chatting with bartender Andrew Pollard and sampling a few of his amazing cocktails–all of them artful creations using a variety of spirits and inspired mixers. A gaggle of young women wearing skimpy dresses and high heels teetered up to the bar. The order: five vodka and Red Bulls. Last year, my wife and I visited the Glenkinchie whisky distillery in Scotland. At the Winton Arms, the nearest pub to the distillery, I asked proprietor Jamie if Glenkinchie is a popular pour with regulars. Nope. Especially with younger drinkers, it’s all about the vodka. 

Why is this? Why is vodka, which is, by legal definition, "odorless, colorless, and tasteless," the runaway favorite for everyone from kichen-table cocktailers to velvet rope bottle-buyers? I think it’s because vodka is a blank slate, both literally and figuratively, for people to create whatever drinking experience they want. Don’t get me wrong, I love vodka, and think it’s great in its minimalism–a Stoli martini is one of my go-to bar orders–but it’s the tofu of spirits, ready to take on whatever flavors or styles you’re into at the moment.

Want something fruity? Here comes the carafe of cranberry. Prefer a dryer drink? Club soda’s perfect. Want your drink to glow under the club’s blacklights? Tonic will give it that magic. Want to look cool? Get a bottle of Grey Goose on your table behind the velvet ropes.

It’s what you’re supposed to do, the standard currency of the VIP section. As nice as it is, bottle buyers don’t get rum, gin, or even whiskey. Vodka’s all but expected, usually a bottle of Grey Goose, or Belvedere, or maybe Chopin. And as much as I like the taste of those vodkas, I suspect that it’s their style and versatility that make them so popular. Some people hate gin. Some can’t stomach rum. But everybody likes vodka in one form or another. It’s a good-looking crowd pleaser.

This is not necessarily a bad thing, but I do hope that drinkers occasionally switch things up and try new spirits. I’d love to see people ordering upscale rums like Mount Gay, fancy gins like Aviation, or sublime Scotches like The Macallan. And I’d especially love to see bowls of delicious punch appearing on the tables of nightclub VIPs from time to time. Wouldn’t that be a refreshing sight?

Vodka’s great, and deserves a prominent place in your drinking life, but it’s a big spirit world out there. Play the field.  

[Related: BlackBook New York Guide; A Rundown of the World’s Top Vodkas; More by Victor Ozols; Follow me on Twitter]

Karlsson’s Vodka Batch 2009, or, What It’s Like to Drink 17 Pounds of Fancy Potatoes

For years, the wine world has placed a lot of importance on the concept of terroir–the place and conditions under which grapes are grown. The idea is that identical grape varietals will produce uniquely different flavors depending on whether they’re grown in, say, the volcanic soil of the Greek islands or the gravel and clay fields of Bordeaux. It’s a fun concept to think about, because you can imagine you’re drinking in the essence of a place, mountains, waterfalls, and all. The way I see it, if terroir really is a thing and not a bunch of bullfeathers, it’s a marketing coup: the physical embodiment of all the intangible attributes that have long been used to sell booze. And there’s no reason wine drinkers should have all the fun. Now beer and spirits people have terroir on the brain, making much of the ideal conditions in which the ingredients used to make their various liquids are grown. But among all boozes, vodka is perhaps the least likely candidate for differentiation based on terroir. After all, its very definition calls for it to be "odorless, colorless, and tasteless," so what difference does it make where its cereals come from? Perhaps quite a bit, if the smooth Karlsson’s Vodka Batch 2009 is any indication.

The unique thing about Karlsson’s Batch 2009 is that it’s made from very fancy virgin potatos which are grown in the southwest of Sweden, and I’d almost swear I can taste the fresh North Sea air in my martini.

Karlsson’s Gold Vodka, the standard bearer of the Karlsson’s line, is known and respected in bartender circles. It’s made with a blend of several varietals of virgin new potatoes, and stands out from its competitors by actually having some flavor, a rarity among vodkas where disappearing is almost the goal. Karlsson’s Batch 2009 is made from just one specific type of potato, the Solist potato, which are planted in March and harvested around Midsummer, when the Swedish days are at their longest. And they’re grown in an area called Cape Bjäre, which might be about as pristine as New Jersey’s Meadowlands for all I know, but sounds like a very pretty, clean, and fertile place. 

In America we’re used to potatoes being rather cheap (the reason french fries accompany every fast food meal) but Solist potatoes are very pricey, retailing at around $100 per pound. Amazingly, Karlsson’s says they use more than 17 pounds of them for each bottle. I’m not exactly sure how the math works–the bottles go for $80 per–but suffice to say they’re some precious spuds.

I opened the potato-shaped bottle and poured two shots over ice in a small tumbler, giving it a swirl and a minute to settle. Then I picked it up and nosed it, getting the faintest whiff of celery, but not much else. It’s definitely a true vodka that way – it smells like a snowstorm. A sip revealed much more. It’s dry at first, followed by a vegetal note, before settling to reveal a pleasant sweetness. As with other potato vodkas I’ve tasted, it’s a bit smoother than most rye and wheat vodkas. It’s also very soft in the mouth without having an oily feeling. It’s an excellent sipping vodka with a story to tell. I like it.

But is a single-year, single-varietal potato vodka that much different than other vodkas? If you’re the type to pay attention to what you’re drinking it is.  And while it probably wouldn’t make much of a difference if you just mix it with Coke, the Batch 2009 would add a nice savory element to certain cocktails – or at the very least get cozy with a couple of plump olives. So, terroir is a factor in vodka? Tastes like it to me.

Karlsson’s Vodka is available at such fashionable spots as PDT in New York. 

Experimenting with Low-Calorie Voli Vodka

I’ve never given much thought to the caloric content of the alcoholic beverages I consume. The way I see it, any notable expansion in my waistline is the result of late-night junk food binges, not beer, wine, and liquor. But I’ve been fascinated recently with the growing popularity of Voli Light Original Vodka, a multi-distilled wheat vodka from the Cognac region of France. Could it stand up against a traditional vodka? 

Thankfully, Voli is not some Franken-vodka, pumped full of artificial additives created in a chemlab. It achieves its skinniness through a reduced alcohol content – Voli has an alcohol content of 30%, compared with the 40% of most vodkas. Other than that, it’s a level playing field, where the variances in vodka – the most difficult-to-differentiate of all spirits – can be attributed to the type of grain used, the type of filtration (diamond dust, anyone?), and the number of times it’s filtered. Marketing may or may not play a role.
 
But for me, there is only one test of whether a vodka succeeds or fails. Can Voli make a proper, satisfying New York Vodka Martini? To find out, I created the most even-handed, statistically valid experiment I could, making extra-dry (nod in the direction of the vermouth across the room) vodka martinis, stirred-not-shaken, at the same time, in the same way, with the same number of ice cubes, using Voli Light Vodka in one mixing glass and a well known premium vodka (let’s call it "Belvedere") in another. I stirred, strained, sipped, and pondered the two experiences.
 
The Belvedere martini was delicious, bracing yet balanced, with notes of citrus. A strong yet restrained cocktail. The Voli martini held its ground against it, delivering a martini that was soft and smooth, yet with the kick I’m looking for. It seemed extremely pure and odorless, and the pleasure of sipping a proper martini was there. The two martinis were competitive. I enjoyed them both.
 
So does the reduced alcohol content matter? Spirits sold as vodka in the United States must have an alcohol content of at least 40%. In Europe, the minimum is 37.5%. Yet Voli is 7.5% lower – weaker, if you like – than the Euro level. To me, that matters not.  From a health perspective, less alcohol can only be an improvement. Yet, Voli doesn’t taste – or feel – like a fake drink. The satisfaction of that first sip, the realization that my evening just took a different track – that my problems aren’t so bad, and everything is going to be just fine – is there.
 
Celebrities such as Pitbull and Fergie have endorsed Voli, which gives it a certain level of respectability among (legal) young drinkers across the country, but it raises what may be the most important question of our time: are Pitbull and Fergie drinking quality vodka? Are they drinking real vodka? I’ve done the research, and the answer is yes, they are indeed.
 
Voli is available in its pure form ($20) and in all-natural flavors such as raspberry cocoa fusion, espresso vanilla fusion, and lemon. Go forth and drink yourself skinny. 

The New Akvinta Vodka Will Not Lie To You Like Those Other Lying Vodkas Lie To You

I occasionally have million-dollar business ideas that I’m totally serious about until I realize the amount of work it would take to make them successful. There was the travel website dedicated to hipster dads, and the Fashion Forecast thing that would let you order fashionable, weather-appropriate outfits for the coming week based on the forecast for your area. But I’ve never once thought about making and marketing my own vodka, because how the heck do you stand out with a difficult-to-differentiate product in a crowded field dominated by deep-pocketed companies? And yet, new vodkas come along all the time to fight the good fight. One of my favorites of the new entrants is called Akvinta. It’s the "first Mediterranean luxury vodka," and it tastes very good.

Vodka, by definition, is odorless, flavorless, and colorless, but that doesn’t mean some vodkas aren’t more enjoyable to sip than others. Akvinta has several points of differentiation. First of all, it’s from Croatia, and I can’t think of any other vodkas from Croatia that I can find in an upscale New York restaurant like Bagatelle, so you can resurrect the term “Croatian sensation” that retired along with Toni Kukoc in 2006. It also very pure, filtered a total of five times through charcoal, marble, gold, silver, and platinum, which is good for some reason. It won a national blind taste test (the only kind of taste tests that matter) and came away with the award for “smoothest vodka.” It has a nice-looking bottle, with an embedded bronze crest and a stylized logo. But the main selling point of Akvinta, according to its marketing materials, is that it’s very honest. 
 
But what does honest mean, in the context of vodka? Well, Akvinta would tell you that an honest vodka is a vodka that doesn’t add sugar, flavorings, or preservatives. (This statement vexes me a bit. Are there really vodkas that add sugar? The horror.) An honest vodka uses the finest Italian wheat and Croatian spring water. An honest vodka is certified organic and kosher. Akvinta is all of these things, unlike some of its competitors we won’t name here. Akvinta won’t lie to you, like all those creepy cartoon nightclub guys in their slick commercial (below). 
 

I’m a product of the modern world, and I admit that I can be swayed by marketing, but I’m also a fan of vodka and know how I like it to taste. On this, most simple measure, Akvinta succeeds. I tasted Akvinta neat, at room temperature, and then I mixed it into my favorite vodka-based cocktail, the classic New York vodka martini, where I shake the living daylights out of some vodka, glance at the bottle of vermouth across the room, and strain the icy contents of the shaker into a cocktail glass adorned with three Goya cocktail olives skewered on a toothpick. 
 
As I sipped my martini and watched Mad Men on a recent Sunday evening, I jotted down my thoughts, which I will reproduce here in Zagat’s form: Akvinta is a “sweet and spicy” vodka that makes a “nice martini.” It “goes well with sex and deceit” and “could stand with the best.” I’m pretty sure the sex and deceit part was referring to Draper et al, because the vodka seemed pretty honest to me. And it could indeed stand with the best. A bottle of Akvinta can be had for $50. 
 
In conclusion, Akvinta is an excellent vodka, and if you are a connoisseur of the “little water” you should give it a try. Let me know what you think. And don’t lie to me, because I’ve been hurt enough. 

Let’s Hear It for Vodka, the Spirit For All Seasons

Autumn 2011 is nearly a month old, falling leaves, chilly nights and all. My spirits-loving friends can’t help themselves from commenting on the advent of whisky season, with its attendant tumblers filled with the warming gold liquid, to be consumed in front of a crackling fire (bearskin rug optional). For those who follow the spirits calendar, it’s time to put away the rums and tequilas of summer and shift to the fortifying flavors of bourbon, Scotch, and rye. Yet I can’t help but wonder which spirit remains appropriate regardless of the season. The answer, of course, is clear: vodka.

Perhaps it makes sense that the most neutral of all spirits – one that is supposedly odorless, colorless, and tasteless – is the year-round crowd pleaser. Vodka has no polarizing flavors that can be shunted into seasonal categories. Agave and sugar cane scream sunshine and sultry breezes, while grain and oak suggest slate skies and wool sweaters. And yet vodka’s universality comes not because it shirks from any battles, but because it has a way of satisfying the desires of summer, winter, and the shoulder seasons in equal measure.

Take my drink of choice: an extra dry vodka martini, up, with olives. Provided it’s made right, I’d be equally happy to sip a Belvedere martini on Christmas, Flag Day, the Fourth of July, or Halloween. It has the crispness and astringency to slake a summer thirst, as well as the character and strength to warm winter’s coldest bones. It just works.

If you want to dress it up for the season, get it on ice with some tonic and lime for beachside sipping at La Côte in Miami Beach, or sip a Black Russian while counting the snowflakes out the window of Montreal’s Blizzarts. But at its heart, vodka is a 365-day spirit. So if you’re ever confused about what season it is, or what hemisphere you’re currently in, and you don’t want to embarrass yourself at the bar, just order a vodka martini and relax. And one for me too, please.

[Image via Las Vegas Sun/Leila Navidi]

Make Friends Fast With a Big Bowl of Voli Vodka

For several years now, I’ve kept a well-stocked candy dish on my desk at work in an attempt to get people to like me. It’s been a moderately successful strategy. My candy-loving coworkers drop by for their afternoon fix, and some feel obliged to say hi and make with the chitchat. But now that the generous people at Voli Spirits have sent me a case of 120 mini bottles of their reduced-calorie vodka, I think my likability factor just increased exponentially.

I’ve consumed a fair amount of vodka in my day, so I was happy to give Voli a try. And I think it’s quite tasty.

Bear in mind that I really don’t give a rat’s ass about its low-calorie status. I’ve never seen vodka as a culprit in my expanding waistline. But it seems Voli achieves its calorie reduction through lowering the alcohol content to 30% from vodka’s traditional 40%, and I’m fine with that. Dry martinis, which are my main vodka delivery vehicle, tend to get me housed so quickly that I welcome the additional hour or so of partying the weaker potion will allow me.

I tried the unflavored Voli first, at room temperature, in a pretty champagne flute. It has a nice bite, muted astringency, soft mouthfeel, mild sweetness, and faintest notes of grain. As for the reduced alcohol content, it’s noticeable, but not much different than any vodka tastes after your ice cube has melted. I’d compare it to Smirnoff, and I mean that as a compliment, since Smirnoff won the New York Times vodka taste test back in 2005. It’s a fine pour, and would make a totally respectable martini.

What I’m drinking now is the raspberry cocoa fusion, (there’s also espresso vanilla, lemon, and orange vanilla) and it’s yummy too. I’m not much of a flavored vodka guy – I like my drinks dry and bitter like my soul – but I think this one is pretty well executed, with natural flavors that actually taste like raspberry and cocoa. It would be good with club soda, or even cola or ginger ale. Can I just come out and say that I bet women would be fond of this? Because that seems a safe bet, and a likely reason for its very existence.

And as for the vodka bowl, which now sits proudly next to the Kit Kats and Lifesavers, it has already attracted plenty of attention, with people snapping Twitpics and stuffing their pockets for later. Yes, just because I share my intoxicating goodies with people doesn’t mean their affection for me is sincere or enduring. I get that. But it makes them act that much nicer to me, and in this life, that’s good enough.

For Father’s Day, Dad Wants Liquor

Screw the tie clip, the sweater, the lawn-care implements. A card is nice if you actually write something in it, but if all you’re going to do is sign the thing, save your $3.99. Absent absurdly expensive toys, Dad bought himself what he wanted long before you knew he wanted it. In fact, forget all that traditional Father’s Day stuff. You’ve put Pops through a lot over the years, and since you can’t give him back the youth you stole from him, the least you can do is give him a brief respite from the noise of the world: Give your dad a good bottle of booze this Sunday. Here are a few favorites that I’d totally expect my brood to offer up if I didn’t already have them.

Whisky: Perhaps the iconic dad spirit, it’s hard to go wrong with a bourbon, rye, or Scotch. I’d be happy uncorking anything from Jack Daniel’s, Dewar’s, or Johnnie Walker. Give dad a great drink and a Scotch education with a fifth of Glenlivet Nadurra 16 ($60), which is bottled at cask strength and is non-chill filtered. It has the flavor of apricots and oak and a healthy kick. If you’re ready to spend some serious – but not quite insane – cash, Talisker 30 is worth every one of the 350 dollars you’ll pay for it. With notes of vanilla, sandalwood, and caramel, he’ll forget about how you took out the lawn gnomes with his Buick that one time.

Tequila: Perhaps your dad prefers an agave-based spirit. If so, head straight to the tequila section of your local booze-mart, where you’ll find an amazing selection of quality bottles that simply weren’t around when he was coming up. While cheaper tequilas work well in margaritas, I’d definitely spend some extra scratch on the primo stuff if he’s just going to be sipping it. Milagro Select Barrel Reserve Silver ($53) has just a touch of grapefruit in its flavor profile, while Jose Cuervo Platino ($60) has citrus notes and a fun assortment of botanicals that dance on the tongue. I absolutely love Gran Patrón Platinum ($200), and offer it to guests who tell me they’ve never had a really good tequila. It’s butterscotch smooth, with flavors of honey, cream, and pear nectar. It’s so nice, in fact, that my prized bottle of the stuff is almost empty.

Rum: Rum’s having a moment, at least in my liquor cabinet, with so many varieties with wildly different flavor profiles – which means you have to try them all. You definitely can’t go wrong with Mount Gay Extra Old ($50), which has an oaky bouquet and flavors of vanilla and cinnamon. Creeping upscale, there’s Ron Zacapa XO ($100), a delicious drink with hints of birch and ginger, and the mind-blowing Bacardi Reserva Limitada ($110), which is made from rums that have mellowed in charred American white oak casks. Limitada is as smooth as rum gets, with flavors of lemon and orange practically jumping out of the glass. Educate dad on rhum agricole, which is made with fresh sugar cane juice instead of the traditional molasses. I like 10 Cane ($30), with a pleasant vanilla flavor, and Clement Premiere Canne ($32), which boasts a pleasing sandalwood aroma and coconut and citrus flavors.

Vodka: It might be the un-booze, but vodka’s supposed absence of flavor might be the ultimate expression of peace in your old man’s soul. I just wrote about vodka, so I’ll only mention a couple of standouts. At $23, Ketel One punches way above its weight class. It’s as smooth as a whisper and perfect in a martini. 42 Below ($22) is another good bet, traveling all the way from New Zealand to the side table by Dad’s TV chair. It has hints of grain and straw and a great mouthfeel. Square One Organic ($35) is delicious and has a great story. It’s made in Idaho from American rye and has vanilla notes and a hint of spice. Grey Goose ($40) tastes as good as it looks, and you know how sexy those bottles are. And I was impressed with Stoli Elit ($60), the iconic Russian vodka house’s most refined offering. The bottle looks like something from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome, and the liquid tastes like a Siberian winter, with the faintest hint of grain. Chill it, pour it, and let dad sip it.

Of course, the obvious benefit of these bottles is that Dad will be obliged to share them with you, at least for a drink, so be sure to pick something you like as well. You’re a good kid, did I ever tell you that?