Although vodka remains at the top of the heap for alcohol — commanding 34 percent of all liquor sales — its sales are relatively flat. There are, however, two bright spots: small brands and flavored vodkas.
Texas vodka maker Deep Eddy knows a good thing when it sees one in the booming trend of flavored vodkas. Almost a year after introducing its popular ruby red vodka, the distillery launched the brand's third flavored vodka, a cranberry variety ($19).
“Our focus on real ingredients — real tea, honey, fruit — has been the recipe to our success, and we followed the recipe again with the new cranberry flavor that we launched this month,” said co-founder Chad Auler.
The new cranberry-infused vodka starts off the same way as all of Deep Eddy’s vodkas: distilled 10 times and charcoal filtered four times. It is then flavored with cane sugar and New England-grown, non-GMO cranberries.
Sipped straight, it bursts with sweet cranberry and raspberry undertones. It’s just sweet enough to mask the slight warmth of the 70 proof alcohol as it eases back. Deep Eddy suggests that it mixes well with beer or champagne. It’s delightful served with sparkling water and a twist of lime. Try this recipe:
Deep Eddy Cranberry Breeze
- 2 oz. Deep Eddy Cranberry Vodka
- 2 oz. club soda or sparkling water
- 1 oz. grapefruit juice
Pour ingredients into cocktail glass filled with ice and stir. Garnish with a slice of lime.
Lone Star vodka with a twist
Similar to Deep Eddy Vodka, Absolut is taking aim at both the flavored and “drink local” markets, with the release of Absolut Texas ($20), the eighth addition to its Limited Editions portfolio.
The Limited Edition series introduces specially designed bottles and flavors to appeal to specific audiences, including Absolut Karnival celebrating the Brazilian party; Absolut Colors with a rainbow pride flag celebrating equality; and a few city-specific editions for Brooklyn, Chicago and London. The Texas edition is the first state-specific product.
Absolut Texas is packaged in a bold bottle with artwork created by San Antonio-based contemporary artist Cruz Ortiz. It features a stylized cowboy boot kickin’ it up with a Texas star.
Some are skeptical that putting Swedish-made vodka into a Texas-themed bottle is enough to convince savvy Texas consumers to buy it. Mark Shilling, CEO of Austin-based Revolution Spirits, isn’t impressed.
“I’m all for cool packaging and marketing, etc., but this just seems overly gimmicky to me. Kind of like the Six Flags version or something,” he said. “If you’re gonna try to sell vodka in Texas with a boot, at least stick it in a pair of Luccheses.”
Packaging aside, Absolut Texas features a unique cucumber and serrano chile pepper flavor recipe “inspired by Southwestern cuisine.” Yes, serrano is a Southwestern flavor, but cucumber? Regardless of its authenticity, it tastes pretty damn good.
Sipped straight, it tastes like a spring drink lush with cucumber, with an ever-so-slight tingle coming from the chile pepper. It’s delightful with nothing but a chill, yet it begs to be mixed in a cocktail.
Absolut Texas would be a fantastic base for a Bloody Mary; however, it mixes well with several other ingredients like cranberry, pineapple and citrus. Absolut recommends this recipe:
- 2 parts Absolut Texas
- 3 parts grapefruit soda
Build over ice in a highball glass. Garnish with a lime wedge and a chile-salt rim.