My local liquor shop, situated two blocks from my home, is nothing particularly extraordinary, but it stocks a plethora of interesting bottles, including Japanese whiskey, old Tom gin from Oregon and Lebanese arak. It’s a perfect example of how the breadth and depth of spirits available in America today is truly impressive—and arguably larger—than ever before.
But despite the variety, the country’s undisputed best seller is still extremely basic: vodka.
In fact, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, nearly one out of every three bottles sold in this country is, you guessed it, vodka. And America is one of the largest liquor markets in the world. Let that sink in for a minute.
This is an old story. Vodka has been on top for years. While other categories are certainly growing, the odorless, colorless and, supposedly, tasteless spirit doesn’t have any real competition to worry about—yet.
But being the industry leader means you have all the other types of spirits biting at your heals. Each day brings with it a litany of attacks and insults but vodka, like any good heavy weight champ, just keeps on trucking along defending its title.
However, what might help solidify its reputation is giving back to the community and using its large platform to elevate worthy causes. A number of brands have already started doing this and I would challenge other ones to do it as well.
A good example, is Simple Vodka, which was started in 2015 with philanthropy in mind and is available right now in Florida, New York, and Texas. (It’s $27 a bottle.) Encouraged by the success of hipster eyeglass chain Warby Parker, which donates a pair of frames for everyone it sells, founders Danny Lafuente and Dan Maslow dreamed up Simple several years ago. (The two had met as students at the University of Pennsylvania.) For each bottle sold, they have pledged to donate the equivalent of roughly 20 meals to food hunger charities around the country, including Feeding America. While still a relatively small brand, it plans to donate its millionth meal by the end of the year.
Reason enough to fix a Vodka Tonic and raise a glass!