Remember when Sean Connery ordered a Smirnoff martini "shaken, not stirred," while appearing in Goldfinger? The vodka bottle's label was not-so-casually displayed facing the camera, kicking off a whorish product placement campaign that runs through all the Bond films. Back in the Connery days, though, vodka was simple. It came in one flavor: vodka. But looking at the bottom-lit shelves of today's bars I'm forced to wonder what in God's name happened to this utilitarian spirit?
It's easy to understand how the trend got started. Russians are known for their honey flavored varieties and Nordic aquavit has boasted countless exotic infusions like cardamom and caraway. It was only a matter of time before the big labels figured out that coloring a clear bottle of Absolut purple and labeling it Kurant would get pussies to drink more vodka, but did they have to take it all the way to cotton candy?
Some of these flavors are really over the top...
Bubble gum:I once knew a
mixologist bartender who dated a lady who was smitten with bubble-gum flavored vodka. This did not sit well with a man who spent hours a day hunting for rare herbs for house-made bitters. His solution to appease the lady was to make his own bubble-gum flavored vodka so he could maintain his artistic integrity. His gum of choice? Big League Chew because the fine strands of gum offered more surface area and thus a faster infusion time.
Waffle: maybe I get this one. Sweet is appealing; I've seen bourbon with maple syrup in it that people enjoy; and I'm sure this vodka is infused with something similar, but do you really want your vodka to taste like sweet waffles? This is a hangover waiting to happen, and when you wake up, you'll have ruined your favorite breakfast item.
Buttered popcorn: If you're an avid movie-goer with a drinking problem, this one's for you, but I'm guessing this tastes like the similarly flavored Jelly Belly jelly bean. That one's not good either.
Brooklyn: scented with hobo urine, bagels and lox.
Peanut butter and jelly: This one is a dick move because it's obviously a marketing attempt to get straight liquor into the lunch boxes of school children. If Joe Camel got flack for marketing cigs to kids, these guys should be hung out to dry.
Bacon: if you've ever seen bacon after it soaks in liquid for a couple of days you know how flaccid, rubbery and water-logged it gets. Wet bacon is in no way appetizing. It reminds me of my time washing dishes as a kid when the guy who worked the night before me left a sink full of plate scraps soaking in tepid water. It also gives me some ideas for some other vodkas I think could have some legs.
Jalapeño popper: Chili infused vodka is nothing new, so why not take it to the next level. Imagine vodka infused with pickled pepper fragments, processed shredded cheese and a little canned chicken for good measure. As long as it's spicy, people will buy it.
French onion soup: This one should be easy enough to dream up. Add some beef bullion to some onion infused vodka and call it a day. Garnish the resultant martini with a crouton, and make it extra dirty, please.
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Turkey dinner: This one is a real power play. Cranberry vodka already exists, so save yourself the trouble and buy that at the store. Meanwhile infuse three other bottles each with turkey skin, green beans and biscuits. You can use plain vodka for the potatoes and call it a meal.
Kris Kristofferson's hair: This one is self explanatory. Simply grab a pair of clippers and get to clipping. Kristofferson's locks are said to add tones of cigarettes, local honey and Texas dirt to any spirit in minutes.