American vodka makers go organic, skip flavors

on 28/12/11 at 9:12 am

Spirits

I shouldn’t have been surprised when, with New Years’ Eve in mind, I went out to find what people are putting in their cocktails this year and found the answer was: nothing.

The trend pendulum is always swinging. It seems odd to think that not that many years ago, mass-produced items were sought after as status symbols. If it was scientifically and mechanically produced, it was cool.

A 1952 ad hanging at the Riverside Zesto promises customers that Zesto ice cream is “pasteurized, homogenized, and laboratory controlled… from the most sanitary of ice cream machines.”

At that time, the Depression wasn’t so far in the past and if you bought your wine already bottled and your bread already sliced, it meant you didn’t have to make it yourself.

Swing forward to the ’80s through the first years of the 21st century, when bland, identical products suddenly shifted toward the individual — outrageously individual. It was the era when sushi became popular in the United States, fusion cuisine was introduced, and popularity grew for habanero peppers and modern, neon liqueurs such as HPNTIC.

Swing a little farther — or way, way back — to today, when the word “artisan” has become so ubiquitous as a food and beverage marketing tool that it practically has lost its meaning. Now it’s cool to eat and drink simply, sustainably, locally and organically.

“The drink this year seems to be vodka,” said chef and caterer Doug Rennie. “Good vodka, though. Flavored vodkas are out. Nobody’s asking for them and nobody’s getting cheap vodka, either. They want really high-end stuff.”

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