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Vodka: How a Colorless, Odorless, Flavorless Spirit Conquered America

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4.02  ·  Rating details ·  64 ratings  ·  16 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 wasn't always thus. For two centuries, America drank the brown stuff: rum and whiskey. So how did Russia's "little water" unseat our favorite hooch? Vic Matus takes us on an incredible visual ...more
ebook, 272 pages
Published July 1st 2014 by Lyons Press
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Barb
I received this book as a Goodreads First-Reads giveaway. I had no idea how little I knew about vodka, other than I liked it on the rocks with tonic and a twist.

This history not only explored the origins of the liquor, but gave a timeline of the rise of vodka from a marginal product in the American market to one of the most requested spirits on the American market. Matus leads through the marketing triumphs that first brought a colorless and flavorless liquor to the public eye and pallet, not to
...more
Kerry
Mar 13, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: food-and-drink
This book is the story of some of the US's most famous vodkas, which is to say that it's the story of their marketing. Which, of course, doesn't mean that these are the best vodkas or the ones with the most interesting stories. They are simply the clear "successes" as measured by cases sold and recognizability.

The book is thin in places, and outright incorrect in others--the Russian spelling of "vodka," for example. The book also doesn't mention Polish vodka at all (except for when it is related
...more
Paul
Jan 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fun book to read that kept my attention from beginning to end. While I've learned a lot from my Bourbon Trail adventures, this book informed me how vodka expanded its market in the U.S. over the past couple decades. Never knew the stories behind Absolut, Tito's, etc, thus was interesting how entrepreneurs and some much larger companies worked hard to deliver and market their products. Great insights that also gave me ideas on some new beverages I'd like to try. :) ...more
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Gideon
Jan 31, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
A fun, relatively quick read that gave me a new appreciation for vodka. Pairs well with a stirred gin martini.
Alyson
This was fantastic. It is well researched, well organized, and extremely well-written! I am so happy to have had the chance to read this.

Victorino Matus has created a book that largely focuses on the last 50 years, but includes a quick background into the liquor dating back to its mysterious unknown origins. He takes readers on an informative romp through the liquor industry, providing in-depth information regarding the distillation, distribution, and marketing processes for specific brands, wh
...more
Steven
Jun 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Srushfordmd
This book is a great read! The book takes you through the history of vodka and how the drink made its way to America from Russia. The book is fun, makes you thirsty for more , and makes you wanna try different brands of vodka even if it's not your normal drink. The author gives you an inside look of the owners of Ketel One, Tito's , Grey Goose, Skyy, Crystal Head vodkas just to name a few, to the secrets of advertisement and how much money is made by these vodka companies. The book l
...more
Ivan
Dec 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Vodka," by Victorino Matus, is a very entertaining read chronicling the history of vodka through a number of case studies - Smirnoff, Absolut, Ketel One, Skyy, Grey Goose, Tito's, and a number of emerging "craft" brands.

Matus also addresses the debate that vodka inspires. Vodka, as a spirit with little character, is highly versatile and mixable. And many alcohol drinkers either love or it or hate it because of that fact. A large proportion of the U.S. consumes it because it is the closest thing
...more
Mary
Mar 11, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mcl2015, foodie, business
This book was more like a series of articles about vodka companies than a cohesive history of vodka. It was a very informative and well written set of articles however and if you are interested in American business history and spirits in particular it is well worth reading. There is a lot here about advertising, which is largely what differentiates one vodka from the next, and how the iconic Absolut campaign (I was in college at the time that those ads plastered dorm rooms) evolved was fascinati ...more
Marc
Jun 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014-challenge
About as good a book on vodka as an author could write. Fast read, great visuals, very entertaining and quite informative. Laughed out loud on more than one occasion and learned more than I expected. The author has clearly done his research. Tons of interviews, distillery tours and blind taste tests are included. I only wish the title was slightly better so I could recommend it to more people with a straight face.
Betsy Hover
Apr 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I received this book from Goodreads Giveaway!

This book was an extremely fascinating in depth history of VODKA. This book blends historical background with pop culture and weaves together a cast of characters ranging from the czars of Russia and James Bond to Dan Aykroyd and P. Diddy.

I would recommend this book for anyone who enjoys learning about the history of a product.
Sarah Duggan
Sep 24, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: food
A breezy read that will make you reconsider the different bottles at your local bar. Each chapter focuses on the story of a different brand, showing how America's relationship with vodka evolved. It's not a detailed cultural history, but there's tons of fun trivia here. ...more
Josh David
An informative look at the vodka industry, where it started and how it captivated America. Also sort of explains where the sudden boom in all the ridiculous flavored vodkas came from (yes, I've been intrigued enough to try a few). The chocolate cake vodka by UV is pretty good! ...more
Holli Krusemark
May 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
What a great and interesting read. My coworkers are lining up to read it next!
Duane McCoskey
Jan 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fun read. Being in the beverage industry (albeit non-alcoholic), I found the stories quite fascinating
Bert
May 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Everything you need to know about vodka and more. Very interesting.
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Victorino Matus is a senior editor at The Weekly Standard. He has been with the magazine since 1996 and writes on a variety of subjects, including military history, German politics, pop culture, and food and drink. His work has appeared in The Weekly Standard and in other publications, including Armed Forces Journal, Policy Review, National Review, the New York Post, Salon, the Wall Street Journal ...more

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