Synopses & Reviews
Vodka began as rotgut medicine in Medieval Russia, but this neutral grain alcohol has become our uncontested king of spirits, with over 1,000 brands fighting for market share. But it wasnt always thus. For two centuries, America drank the brown stuff: rum and whiskey. So how did Russias “little water” unseat our favorite hooch? Vic Matus takes us on an incredible visual journey from vodkas humble American origins in a Depression-era Connecticut factory—using the family recipe of a poor Russian exile named Vladimir Smirnov—through its glamorous rise to fame at the hands of James Bond and Sex and the City
to todays craft distillery movement. Youll see in clear, intoxicating detail how hippie culture, womens lib, and an absolutely ingenious Swedish company all played their part, transforming the booze into a status symbol. By 1975, the war had ended: Vodka officially became our favorite spirit. Today, a third of all cocktails contain it, and last year 140 million gallons of the stuff racked up $20 billion in sales. Here is the crisply distilled, bracing story of how entrepreneurs defied the odds and turned medieval medicine into a multibillion-dollar industry.
"In his first book, Weekly Standard senior editor Matus serves up a detailed history of one of the world's most popular clear alcohols. Tracking the white spirit from its humble roots as a topical Russian medicine to its current status as, he argues, America's single best-loved liquor, Matus covers every base possible along the way. Intriguing personal interviews with industry big shots and craft-distillery upstarts comprise the bulk of the text, placing faces on giant corporate stills like Grey Goose while also giving a voice to the industry's smaller distillers like Tito's Handmade Vodka. The story is fascinating, but each chapter reads more like a discrete essay than a part of a larger narrative. Still, the finished product goes down nice and smooth, providing great insight into the vodka industry in its current state. (July)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Victorino Matus is senior editor at The Weekly Standard. He has written for the New York Post, Salon.com, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and Washingtonian magazine and provided commentary on CNN, NPR, C-SPAN, and The Laura Ingraham Show among others. He lives in Arlington, Virginia, with his wife and their two children.