To that end, Nazari offers about
60 vodkas, all super-premium, only 10
of which are flavored. “I pretty much
don’t sell flavors unless they are locally
produced, like Hangar 1. It’s not our
thing,” he says.
So what are the vodkas that seduce
wine lovers? “I sell a lot of Grey Goose, Bel-
vedere, Ketel One and Stoli Elit, which is
a very different style, more distinctive than
a lot of luxury vodkas which try to be very
smooth and round,” says Nazari. From
here, the selection ascends to extreme-
premium, including Beluga Vodka Gold,
priced at $100, and Vallure at $230. “I
don’t want to compete with bigger stores
on Stoli and Absolut. I would be compet-
ing on price. I prefer to compete on selec-
tion, to relate vodka to the producers of
spirits that do everything on a small but
premium scale,” says Nazari.
The encouraging news regarding vodka
is that there is no shortage of buyers and
brands that suit them. With new labels
still proliferating and the category continu-
ing its decades of dominance, these savvy
sellers recognize vodka’s broad appeal and
ample opportunities mean it’s still a great
shot at success, especially for those who
know their particular market.
Today’s vodka shelves are not unlike a
crowded bar, or a job fair—the more players
there are, the more alike they appear. With
vodka, the sense of sameness is accentuated
by the simple fact that unflavored vodka
aspires to neutrality. But, of course, the
distinctions are quite real—ranging from
texture, viscosity and finish to packaging
and specifics of origin and production.
Every reseller of straight vodka is
forced to make decisions on
what to carry. One natural
approach is to spread the
options across multiple
price points; another is to offer a balance
of imported and domestic, big brand
and craft/local.
Whatever tack one takes, however, the
key is to know what’s on offer. Every vodka
has a story; sales staff and bartenders
should be able to sum up a vodka’s
reason for being on the shelf whenever
a customer asks. Think of it as a calling
card, an elevator pitch, an opening line.
A few examples:
Quadruple-distilled and five-times
filtered, 360 has won awards for both
quality and environmentally responsible
packaging (the flip-top closure makes the
bottle reusable).
American Harvest.
Here is your
All-American spirit. Made in very small
batches from organic winter wheat and
water from deep below the Snake
River Plain.
Double Cross.
This is Slovakian
vodka, seven times distilled and seven
times filtered—in a package that features
both the ancient symbol of the Slovak
coat of arms and inscriptions of poetry
from the 1800s.
Distilled in Cognac from wheat
harvested in Champagne, this French
vodka is named for the great moments
often found in everyday living, yet some-
times taken for granted.
Based on barley, Finlandia
is made via a continuous distillation
process that includes more than 200 steps.
So pure it needs no filtering, it is blended
with untouched glacial spring water.
This is a value brand with
Russian inspiration and an extra dash of
sex appeal in their outdoor advertising.
First bottled on Veterans Day
(11.11.11), veteran-owned Heroes is made
from 100% American corn and a portion
of sales go to AMVETS, supporting active-
duty military and veterans.
High Rise.
A brand new
“retro” vodka, High Rise evokes the
style and sophistication of the 1960s
cocktail era; made with winter wheat and
limestone water from New York’s
Finger Lakes region.
I Spirit.
It’s the Italian vodka! Started
as a collaboration that included Harry’s
Bar, I Spirit is distilled five times and uses
crystal clear water from the Dolomites.
vodka calling cards
Basil Gimlet, with Skyy Vodka
se l ec t i ons
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