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Vodka: How a Colorless, Odorless, Flavorless Spirit Conquered America Hardcover – July 1, 2014


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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Fascinating ... the finished product goes down nice and smooth, providing great insight into the vodka industry in its current state."
Publishers Weekly

“Make mine a double! I’ll be reading Vodka more than once, and I don’t understand how ‘Colorless, Odorless, Flavorless’ got into the subtitle of this vivid, pungent, and savory book.”
P. J. O’Rourke

“Fantastic. Victorino Matus has written one of the most interesting books of the year.
Vodka is a great story, and he tells it perfectly. I got so absorbed, I missed cocktail hour. Buy three copies.”
Tucker Carlson

“An excellent book on a spirit remarkable for being unremarkable,
Vodka is a brilliant social history, an incisive study of business and marketing, and a lot of fun to read.”
Michael Ruhlman, New York Times–bestselling and James Beard– and IACP Award–winning author of The Soul of a Chef, The French Laundry Cookbook (with Thomas Keller), Charcuterie, and Ruhlman's Twenty.

Vodka made me laugh, learn, think, and savor the journey. On every page, I thought: I want one now. Put this great book on its own shelf with a tall bottle of vodka next to it. You’ll love it.”
Larry Miller, actor, comedian, and host of This Week with Larry Miller

“Matus’s book is anything but bland. He guides us through the history of how this colorless drink became the most popular tipple in America by mixing a cocktail of anthropological insight and reportorial legwork, dashed with a perfect measure of tongue-in-cheek wit.”
Max Watman, author of Harvest and Chasing the White Dog

“With a business writer’s acumen, Victorino Matus carefully brings the cloudy world of the international vodka industry into focus. Both millionaire distillers and mom-and-pop operations invite him inside their world, where he explores super premiums, celebrity endorsements, the flavor craze, and the seamier side of the industry. Part history lesson and part marketing examination,
Vodka will make you think twice the next time you look at a bottle of it.”
Kevin C. Fitzpatrick, author of Under the Table

“Vodka comes alive in the hands of Victorino Matus, who 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. This book will please casual readers and cocktail geeks alike. Reading
Vodka might not be as satisfying as drinking it—but it comes close!”
Mark Spivak, author of Iconic Spirits and Moonshine Nation

“Matus casts his gimlet eye over a range of brands, from tiny craft distillers to industry giants, and recounts how they've found their place in the crowded vodka ecosystem…And by the end, it's hard to disagree—not just in the sales figures but also in its conquests. Haters will still say there's no craft in vodka, that it's an industrial product. But Mr. Matus convinced me there's true craft here…Vodka didn't conquer America; America conquered vodka.” –
The Wall Street Journal

“The whole book is a tour de rires of the American vodka industry. Mr. Matus, with a feature reporter’s eye and a nice, light touch, shows us Vodka USA in all its glory...Literary merits aside, this is a beautiful book. It smells good, too…One can only hope more publishers follow this example.” –
The Washington Times

Vodka is one part intriguing history lesson, one part reporting, and one part percipient marketing study. Suffusing his book with an easy charm and engaging wit, Matus draws the reader in as he charts vodka’s origins and its rise to become America’s top-selling spirit.” --The Federalist

About the Author

Victorino Matus is a senior editor at The Weekly Standard. He has written for the New York Post, Salon.com, The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and Washingtonian magazine and provided commentary on CNN, NPR, C-SPAN, The Laura Ingraham Show, and the BBC. For a Washington Post piece on the FDA’s menu label mandate, he consumed 3,000 calories in a single sitting to prove a point, and his essays have covered the greatest culinary insult to Italian-Americans (The Olive Garden) and the foie gras wars. He lives in Arlington, Virginia, with his wife, Kate, and their two children.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Lyons Press; First Edition edition (July 1, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 076278699X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0762786992
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #407,802 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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, Washingtonian magazine, and the Washington Post. He has also provided commentary on CNN, NPR, C-SPAN, and the BBC. Prior to joining The Weekly Standard, he worked for a defense consulting firm and at The White House Writers Group.

Victorino is a graduate of Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service, where he met his wife Kate. They and their two children live in Arlington, Virginia.

Aside from The Weekly Standard, he also blogs at www.vicmatus.com.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
5 star
88%
4 star
6%
3 star
6%
2 star
0%
1 star
0%
See all 16 customer reviews
I am glad I picked this book up!
Todd Palladino
If you just hang around in bars, this will give you stories to tell that make your friends buy you another drink.
Kenneth
It is very well written, easy to follow, that blends history, humor and business industry.
Dolores Lim

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Steven on June 26, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
srushfordmd, June 26, 2014
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 writer 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 lets you know who is making the millions to billions. How this writer makes his way through the industry of Vodka is intriguing, and how he got the inside secrets to this industry and stories from the owners of the different brands is impressive. You Gotta read it to find out for yourself.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By BookReader on July 1, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Victorino Matus has done all of us alcohol lovers a big favor by producing a well written book with beautiful art. Well worth the money and time -- five enthusiastic stars!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By David on July 14, 2014
Format: Hardcover
The kind of book that makes you want to re-tell the stories, factoids, history, and humorous accounts to all of your friends and family. A really fascinating topic, even for those (like myself) who don't care much for vodka.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By L.K.Dwyer on August 26, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Even if you don't drink, this is a fabulous book - excellently written with charm and fascinating anecdotes, and a perfect gift for the man in your life. Think ahead to Christmas, birthdays, Fathers' Day, etc.
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Format: Kindle Edition
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 mention to the top shelves of bars across the country.

Although an interesting feat of salesmanship, the book failed to keep me entertained for lengthily periods. I put it down many times, picking it up later to continue the saga. More informative than intriguing.
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By Amazon Customer on July 22, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Vic Matus has written a great book on an important social issue: What to drink at social occasions. I prefer gin to vodka, but that didn't stop me from enjoying the tale of how a "colorless, odorless, flavorless" brand of alcohol became so popular.

Matus tells his story with verve, wit, and a unique passion for food and drink. But you don't have to be a foodie or an alkie—sorry, mixologist—to read "Vodka." Business-minded teetotalers also have something to look forward to, since this is more than a history of drinking. It's a history of marketing. I am proud to display "Vodka" on my bar, and proud to call the author a friend. He better buy me a bottle of Smirnoff for this review.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I just finished reading this book and although I'll be reviewing it in full on my website (www.the-vodka-guy.com) I had to add a quick post on Amazon to say how much I enjoyed it. It's entertaining as well as being informative, and I simply couldn't put it down. I can really only echo what the previous reviewers have already said - it's a great read, and what you spend on the book you'll probably save by changing your vodka-drinking habits.
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By Kenneth on August 21, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
You will never have anywhere this much fun finding out all you need to know about a question that has no answer: why is vodka so popular? The stories are wonderful and all told at exactly the right moment. Trust me, if you tend bar. your customers will think you are fascinating. If you just hang around in bars, this will give you stories to tell that make your friends buy you another drink. LOTS of fun.
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