on October 3, 2012
It's a treasure trove of vodka trivia past and present that could even impress your bartender.
Here's a sample, from the Wall Street Journal's coverage of one of Ms. Herlihy's book readings. The article read: "She was there to discuss vodka, a substance 'without color, odor or taste' that marketers have cleverly promoted. 'What is there to say about vodka?' she asked. 'It turns out to be anything you want.' Ms. Herlihy rolled off a litany of market-driven vodka packaging. There is vodka in Russia bottled as Marilyn Monroe with her skirt partially billowing up. If one likes dogs, there is Black Lab Vodka. Kosher vodka is available, as is environmentally made vodka in Wisconsin from organic wheat with its label made on recycled paper. There is even a vodka bottle shaped like a Kalashnikov rifle. ... "
Vodka marketing steamroller aside, though, this book also delivers everything from history (the author is a Brown University Russian history professor emerita) to the process of making vodka to the recipes you can make with it.
Did you know that, czar-wise, Ivan the Great established the first state vodka monopoly and Peter the Great used to force his enemies to drink to excess, "so they soon slumped senseless on the table or simply dropped dead?" No? Nor did your bartender, reader, nor did your bartender...