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Organic Vodka


ScottNYC
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Hi all,

I am doing some consulting work for a new organic vodka and I am looking to the group here for some suggestions.

I would like to find some restaurant owners that have a high interest in organic food and may want to also add an Organic Cocktail to their list.

Organic food has enjoyed 20-30% growth over the past few years so now is a great time to offer them a special organic cocktail made with organic puree's or an organic martini made with organic olives.

Please share any Organic drink recipe ideas that you may know of.

If people pay much more for an organic cucumber at Whole Foods then they would probably pay at least $2-$3 more for an organic cocktail.

What do you think?

Please let me know your thoughts.

Thanks,

Scott

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I'm sure you can scam some people with that. People purchase "organic" wine or shampoos after all.

Some people will buy anything if they can feel good about it.

Of course, having gone through distillation any putative benefits of organically grown grain are long since gone. So the idea is basically a joke. But if you want to make money this way, more power to you.

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I'm sure you can scam some people with that.  People purchase "organic" wine or shampoos after all.

Some people will buy anything if they can feel good about it.

Of course, having gone through distillation any putative benefits of organically grown grain are long since gone.  So the idea is basically a joke.  But if you want to make money this way, more power to you.

Nathan, I'm not one to defend organic for organic's sake. In purchasing food, I'm looking for flavor and value, not how it's grown and produced, except to the extent that that influences flavor and value.

You hit the nail on the head in the statement that "some people will buy anything if they can feel good about it." Yes, but I think that's true of everything we buy; if we don't feel good about it, why are we buying it? Do you purposely buy anything that makes you feel bad?

The issue of organic, however, goes beyond the "putative benefits" in consuming the item. It has as much to do with land conservation, economics, etc., as it does with taste and health (perhaps even more). I think the case for organics is overblown and the very idea is being corrupted by agri-business, but that doesn't mean it's a joke.

All of this said, while I won't call organic vodka a joke, I do think it's rather silly. The concept of getting organically smashed, rather than inorganically smashed, could be amusing.

Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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I'll note that there are at least two "organic" vodkas on the market: Square One and UK5.

I'm confused as to what would differ an "organic drink recipe" from a regular drink recipe -- that's just silly. make your screwdriver with Square One and "organic" oranges and charge $15 for it.

but to the original OP: the person you should be talking to in NY is Matthew Kenney.

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I like the comments, but to respond to rlibking-There is a lot more to the process than as you say, "just organically smashing it." To get Square One Organic Vodka certified by both USDA Organic and Oregon Tilth is an extremely difficult process. Everything about the brand, from the recycled paper and soy inks used in the packaging, to the organically grown rye, and every step of the distillation process is eco-friendly. You can read more about it at www.squareonevodka.com.

Nathan, thanks for the info on UK5. Not sure if they are available in the US right now, but that is a good point and I believe it proves that all over the World there are people that are looking to support organic products, whether it is a organic tomato or an organic vodka. Also, an organic drink recipe would include, as you mentioned, organic juice, a fresh organic puree or a pre-packaged organic flavored tea.

Can you please tell me how to get in touch with Matthew Kenny?

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I don't specifically know how to get ahold of him...but start with google or the phone book.

Even though he's no longer affiliated with Pure, he does, I believe have a couple organic juice bars...presumably you could ask the staff...

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I like the comments, but to respond to rlibking-There is a lot more to the process than as you say, "just organically smashing it." 

Scott, I think you mis-read my "smash" statement. :smile: I was referring to the end-product of drinking organic or inorganic vodka, not the manufacturing process.

Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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As someone who does support and buy organic products, I'd say that other things being equal, I'd buy an organic liquor (if it were good quality, in other words, and not prohibitively expensive). However, for me (and probably many of the members who post here), the liquor is only one of several components of a drink, so a totally organic drink is probably not going to be an option that's even possible. It's not just the base spirit and fruit juice that I'd have to worry about, but could include vermouth, liqueurs, bitters, egg whites, and sugar, to name the most frequent ingredients. That's a lot of non-organic elements -- you might be able to offer organic sugar, eggs and citrus fruit, but the other ingredients would be impossible (at least now).

But for the consumer who drinks vodka and fruit juice, it could be a selling point, I think. If I drank vodka and cranberry juice, and an organic version was a dollar more than the non-organic version, I'd probably buy the organic version just on that basis. If it were $3 more and it tasted a lot better, I would also buy it. But if it were $3 more and tasted the same, I probably wouldn't.

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I've a friend who buys only RAIN Vodka from Illinois. Nice bottle. Insufferable website.

Found this page: "Martini go Greeny" which adds to our discussion and has a couple recipes, one with coriander seeds.

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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Great article. I like the Cucumber one...sounds refreshing.

I found the website www.theplantindumbo.com which lists all of his organic juice bars you were referring to. I am going to stop by one of them tomorrow to see what juices are offered.

Interesting you should mention Rain Vodka. They seem to be in all of the organic restaurants I have found so far because the label states it is made from organic corn. However, it is not USDA certified Organic.

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I'm sure you can scam some people with that.  People purchase "organic" wine or shampoos after all.

Some people will buy anything if they can feel good about it.

Of course, having gone through distillation any putative benefits of organically grown grain are long since gone.  So the idea is basically a joke.  But if you want to make money this way, more power to you.

Nathan, I'm not one to defend organic for organic's sake. In purchasing food, I'm looking for flavor and value, not how it's grown and produced, except to the extent that that influences flavor and value.

You hit the nail on the head in the statement that "some people will buy anything if they can feel good about it." Yes, but I think that's true of everything we buy; if we don't feel good about it, why are we buying it? Do you purposely buy anything that makes you feel bad?

The issue of organic, however, goes beyond the "putative benefits" in consuming the item. It has as much to do with land conservation, economics, etc., as it does with taste and health (perhaps even more). I think the case for organics is overblown and the very idea is being corrupted by agri-business, but that doesn't mean it's a joke.

All of this said, while I won't call organic vodka a joke, I do think it's rather silly. The concept of getting organically smashed, rather than inorganically smashed, could be amusing.

Good comments, think of it this way, people gladly shell out $30+ for vodka that quantiatively may be no better than less expesnive products. They do it for a variety of reasons such as elaborate bottle, cool name, they saw a model drink etc. these help the purchaser define their self-image, sometimes it may be silly, but thats why there are so many different products. Let's not forget some people still choose their vodka brand based on how the vodka tastes on it's own. (cheers to those intrepid few)

Anyway, even though there are no real health benefits directly attributed to drinking organic alcohol as opposed to run of the mill alcohol, at leasts it sends a message that you have some concern for the planet. (Cynics might compare this to the act of driving a luxury hybrid SUV...)

While mass market organic products are slightly changing the playing field, I find a lot of consumers equate organic with high quality, so the extra $$$ seem worth it to them. Better to spend your few extra dollars on the planet than a fancy bottle,no? Quality perception will change if the producers dont keep delivering on quality as the market grows.

BTW - I sell a vodka made fro orgnaic grain but flavored with oranges that are not certified organic, so I cant call the product organic, we get some thumbs up for using organic grain but people only buy it if they like the taste. My origianl reason for choosing the organic spirits was purely one of quality, so that's fine by me. Square One is full on committed to organics, and they belive it as shown by their commitment to Orgnanic Labels, etc., not easy to get all those pieces together, cheers to them!

Also, I've seen UK5 around NY/CT lately, but not in many places, worth finding as is their Gin.

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I drank Vodka O in Australia.

I am not much of a spirits drinker (anymore :cool: ) but I thought it was nice and smooth. I didnt really care that it was organic rather that it tasted good.

I think I remember someone trying to convince me that if I drank organic vodka, I wouldnt get a hangover. I wasnt falling for it. Drink enough of anything and you'll feel it the next day :wacko:

"Thy food shall be thy medicine" -Hippocrates

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I drank Vodka O in Australia.

I am not much of a spirits drinker (anymore :cool: ) but I thought it was nice and smooth.  I didnt really care that it was organic rather that it tasted good.

I think I remember someone trying to convince me that if I drank organic vodka, I wouldnt get a hangover.  I wasnt falling for it.  Drink enough of anything and you'll feel it the next day :wacko:

True, to avoid hangovers, drink water. Funy thing is that people who are looking for spirits that wont give them hangovers are often planning on drinking to excess, and they wind up hurting on way or the other. My motto is "quality, not quanity", sometimes amended to "quantities of quality."

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You may be right about not getting a hangover from the organic vodka, because it doesn't have as many impurities due to the organic process.

I drank Vodka O in Australia.

I am not much of a spirits drinker (anymore :cool: ) but I thought it was nice and smooth.  I didnt really care that it was organic rather that it tasted good.

I think I remember someone trying to convince me that if I drank organic vodka, I wouldnt get a hangover.  I wasnt falling for it.  Drink enough of anything and you'll feel it the next day :wacko:

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You may be right about not getting a hangover from the organic vodka, because it doesn't have as many impurities due to the organic process.

No, in fact this wouldn't be right.

First of all this entire "impurities" idea is based on the premise (largely promoted by vodka makers) that hangovers come substantially from exposure to congeners (vodka is low in congeners). This is a mistaken premise. Yes, there is some evidence that high levels of congeners can contribute to the headache portion of a hangover, but there are many aspects to a hangover and many root causes of those aspects.

Second, given the nature of the distilling, rectification and filtration process that goes into making vodka, I am quite sure that there is no chemical difference between "organic" vodka and "regular" vodka out of the still.* According to the sense in which "impurities" is used with respect to vodka, it would be easy to make a "not organic" vodka that had substantially fewer impurities than an "organic" vodka.

* This is why I think the idea of an "organic" vodka is silly if you're concerned about the product itself. If you're more concerned with the environmental impact of standard agricultural practices, there may be some point to buying "organic" vodka. Although, personally, if that's the reason I'm buying a certain liquor, I hope someone comes up with a "sustainable agriculture" vodka soon. The point is, though, that there would still be no difference in the bottle.

--

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  • 3 weeks later...

I totally disagree with you. Vodka makers use many chemicals when they are making the vodka and that is the reason they have to distill and filter their products many times in order to get them to be clean. With organically grown ingredients and no chemicals used during the distillation process there is definitely going to be a difference between organic vodka and regular vodka.

In response to your comment regarding congeners, the experts believe that they may play a role in getting a hangover but that ethanal is a more likely cause. See this article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congener

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I totally disagree with you.  Vodka makers use many chemicals when they are making the vodka and that is the reason they have to distill and filter their products many times in order to get them to be clean.  With organically grown ingredients and no chemicals used during the distillation process there is definitely going to be a difference between organic vodka and regular vodka.

Scott, what are some of the chemicals commonly used in commercial vodka production?

BTW, at the risk of making a fool out of myself, I'll own up to being one of those people who will buy an organic vodka. We don't drink much vodka, but in general we try to buy as much organic food and other products as reasonably possible.

My reasons have to do with a desire to take at least some responsibility for the environmental impact of my purchase decisions. So I try to buy local and/or organically produced seasonal food whenever possible. We buy very little processed food. What I eat matters to me, and where and how my food is produced is a large part of that.

Mind you, I have the economic luxury of making these choices, and recognize that many people don't. And for most people, obviously, the environment is not high on their list of priorities. Free country.

Back to the question of cocktails: Scott, I always have organic sugar in the cupboard, along with organically grown teas, and organic OJ in the fridge. The local farmstands are full of fresh peaches and apples and plums right now, some of which are organic. Must be somewhere we can go with that?

I need to buy a new bottle of vodka since we just used up the old one, so I'll go looking for Square One to try it out.

- L.

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I totally disagree with you.  Vodka makers use many chemicals when they are making the vodka and that is the reason they have to distill and filter their products many times in order to get them to be clean.  With organically grown ingredients and no chemicals used during the distillation process there is definitely going to be a difference between organic vodka and regular vodka.

Scott, what chemicals exactly do you think are used in making vodka? Vodka is made by taking fermented material and distilling it to high proof, after which time it is rectified and filtered. Vodka coming out of the still is typically an azeotropic solution of water and ethanol at around 95% abv. Where exactly are these "chemicals" figuring in? Are you suggesting that the makers of "organic" vodka use a distillation/rectification/filtration process that is meaningfully different from the process used by regular distillers. If so, I'd love to hear about these differences.

In response to your comment regarding congeners, the experts believe that they may play a role in getting a hangover but that ethanal is a more likely cause.  See this article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congener

Yes, I know it's a mistaken premise to suppose that congeners are the primary causes of hangovers. That's why I wrote, "This is a mistaken premise." Nevertheless, it is a fact that vodka makers refer to congeners when they speak of "impurities" (and a lack thereof) in their product. It's also a fact that several vodka makers have claimed that hangovers are lessened or less likely when one consumes spirits with low levels of congeners (i.e., their vodka).

I should hasten to point out that ethanal (aka acetaldehyde), regardless of what role it may or may not play in hangover symptoms, is not an "impurity" found in spirits. Ethanol is converted in the body by the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase into acetaldehyde, which is then converted into acetic acid by acetaldehyde dehydrogenase. Since the ethanol in "organic" vodka is exactly the same as the ethanol in "regular" vodka, there will be no difference.

I'm curious: If we ran two batches -- one "organic" and the other "regular, but otherwise identical -- through an identical fermentation/distillation/rectification/filtration process using the same stills, etc. Do you believe a chemical analysis of the 95% abv vodka at the end of the process could tell the two batches apart? Because I don't.

--

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Leaving aside the politics and philosphy, has anyone tried the Square One Organic Vodka?

It is my understanding it is made from Organic Rye and distilled to a lower proof than most other commercial vodkas, thus maintaining more of the character of the source materials.

Sounds somewhat intruiging to me.

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Interesting. Where did you read that Square One is distilled to lower proof? There reaches a point, IMO, where if the product isn't distilled to high enough proof and isn't rectified, it's perhaps better to descriobe is as a kind of mild whiskey than a vodka. Square One's own publicity materials say that it's produced in a "four column distiller," which sounds like regular high-proof rectification to me.

--

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Interesting.  Where did you read that Square One is distilled to lower proof?  There reaches a point, IMO, where if the product isn't distilled to high enough proof and isn't rectified, it's perhaps better to descriobe is as a kind of mild whiskey than a vodka.  Square One's own publicity materials say that it's produced in a "four column distiller," which sounds like regular high-proof rectification to me.

It's vodka. I've tried it.

aka David Wondrich

There are, according to recent statistics, 147 female bartenders in the United States. In the United Kingdom the barmaid is a feature of the wayside inn, and is a young woman of intelligence and rare sagacity. --The Syracuse Standard, 1895

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Interesting.  Where did you read that Square One is distilled to lower proof?  There reaches a point, IMO, where if the product isn't distilled to high enough proof and isn't rectified, it's perhaps better to descriobe is as a kind of mild whiskey than a vodka.  Square One's own publicity materials say that it's produced in a "four column distiller," which sounds like regular high-proof rectification to me.

I thought they said something like that an article I read in imbibe magazine. I don't have it with me, so I can't check.

If I was mistaken about the low proof, however, they do say that it is only distilled once, "Square One, on the other hand, receives such a clean fermentation that it needs only a short time in a 4-column distiller to emerge with sparkling clarity. Its unique flavor signature and cool, soft texture remain beautifully intact."

I suppose that does sound like marketing hoo ha.

Edited by eje (log)

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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It's vodka. I've tried it.

I assumed as much. But, damn it Dave, you're putting a damper on my calling bullshit on their marketing hoo-ha.

If I was mistaken about the low proof, however, they do say that it is only distilled once, "Square One, on the other hand, receives such a clean fermentation that it needs only a short time in a 4-column distiller to emerge with sparkling clarity. Its unique flavor signature and cool, soft texture remain beautifully intact."

I suppose that does sound like marketing hoo ha.

Especially since "once through a four column distiller" would seem to equal "distilled four times."

--

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  • 2 weeks later...

upon my glancing over this thread I see that slkinsey has the thread well-covered.

I'll only note that any purported benefits from "organic" ingredients are definitively lost through distillation and other such processes. (This is why I find "organic" shampoos and the like to be especially amusing.)

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