Book Review: Vodka

Vodka by Victorino Matus is not, as the title may have you believe, a trendy slice-of-urban-life novel or a true crime thriller. It is, in fact, a book about vodka.

I state this because it was my beach book in Hawaii some years ago and people kept asking if it really was a book about vodka. They seemed to be expecting something else, I guess.

It’s the ideal book to take to Hawaii. It’s a short, light, fun read, easy to put down when the whim takes you to swim and pick back up where you left.

What about vodka is Vodka about? It’s basically about America and vodka, why we drink it, how we drink it, how it’s made, and who makes it.

Vic Matus is a writer with the Washington Free Beacon, currently, and one of the hosts of the very funny SubBeacon podcast (formerly the SubStandard). He is the one with gout and the quadrant method of rating movies. You should listen to this podcast.

He writes really well in Vodka. The research is very thorough and very interesting. How vodka came to the States is laid our really well, as are the lives and times of the men who put various vodka brands in the map. It’s not dry, but really smart and funny even when discussing history or markets.

What was interesting about Vodka is its educational value. I’m not kidding. I was prepping to get my MBA at the time I first read it, and it ended up being a really helpful study in marketing.

Because vodka is generally not something you drink straight, there is not necessarily much difference between different brands in the same broad price range. The difference between Absolut and SKYY (both brands covered in the book) is not much. But marketing is why they’re so well known and a lot of the book is dedicated to how vodka is marketed and why. It’s some interesting stuff and I think quite applicable to markets still.

This writer would like to note her preference for cocktails is Tito’s with Ketel One a close second, both brands covered in the book. I need to try Hangar One, though I have had other stuff made by St. George’s that is truly excellent.

I actually dislike Grey Goose, though that may be the marketing I find off-putting; the book covers the opulent lifestyle that Grey Goose associates itself with and I just don’t care for it. It’s not that I’m necessarily against ridiculous self-indulgence. It’s just that if you’re going to be ridiculously self-indulgent, can’t you find interesting ways to do it? Instead of spending many thousands of dollars on bottle service every weekend why not, say, build a private enclosure where one can romp naked with otters at a whim?

I guess what I’m saying is that I understand wanting a heated toilet seat, but I’ll never understand wanting a golden toilet seat.

Anyway, back to the book. It is a prompt for those sort of thoughts. When I read it, I get a bit jealous of Vic, though in the way you do when you’re happy for someone at the same time. He goes to amazing places and meets amazing people. He gets to drink a lot of good liquor. I wish I could do that!

The people he meets, as well as those entrepreneurs he writes about, are indeed amazing. Many of them are real American success stories- even if some aren’t American, they found their success here. Others are people pursuing the American dream the old fashioned way, though hard work, smart thinking, risk, and not a little sacrifice. It’s been inspiring, especially as a very very very tiny entrepreneur with a busy regular life. There’s a reason I reread this one from time to time.

So if you’re looking for an easy, cheerful, and fun read, I can’t recommend Vodka enough. You can always get it on Amazon and many other places besides.

Published by kathrynzurmehly

I am, among many other things, an Army vet and a freelance writer.

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