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Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), drinks a shot of vodka while visiting a market as part of his party Duma election campaign in the southern Russian city of Stavropol October 15, 2011. Russia will hold an election to the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, on December 4, 2011. REUTERS/Eduard Korniyenko (RUSSIA - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS) - RTXXS52 Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), drinks a shot of vodka while visiting a market as part of his party Duma election campaign in the southern Russian city of Stavropol October 15, 2011. Russia will hold an election to the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, on December 4, 2011. REUTERS/Eduard Korniyenko (RUSSIA - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS) - RTXXS52  

How Vodka Came To America — And Stole Our Heart

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Jamie Weinstein
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      Jamie Weinstein

      Jamie Weinstein is Senior Editor of The Daily Caller. His work has appeared in The Weekly Standard, the New York Daily News and The Washington Examiner, among many other publications. He also worked as the Collegiate Network Journalism Fellow at Roll Call Newspaper and is the winner of the 2011 "Funniest Celebrity in Washington" contest. A regular on Fox News and other cable news outlets, Weinstein received a master’s degree in the history of international relations from the London School of Economics in 2009 and a bachelor's degree in history and government from Cornell University in 2006. He is the author of the political satire, "The Lizard King: The Shocking Inside Account of Obama's True Intergalactic Ambitions by an Anonymous White House Staffer."

Victorino Matus is senior editor of one of the premier political magazines in Washington, but he decided to author his first book on vodka.

“No reading between the lines here — this is no cry for an intervention (unlike my next book on sex addiction),” the senior editor of the Weekly Standard insisted in an email interview with The Daily Caller about his recently released tome, “Vodka: How a Colorless, Odorless, Flavorless Spirit Conquered America.”

“Seriously, I just started running into more and more people who were getting into the vodka business, either as investors or as full-time microdistillers,” he continued, expounding on how he settled on the topic of vodka for his book. “It reminded me of the 1849 Gold Rush. So I turned to our liquor lobby friends at the Distilled Spirits Council who revealed the staggering amount we drink and spend on something the government defines as flavorless, odorless, colorless, and without character. How on earth did this happen? And so a story in the Weekly Standard turned into a book proposal, which became the book.”

Matus explained that vodka, which he says “most likely” originated in Russia in the 14th century, began to catch on in the United States in part because of rebellious hippies and feminists.

“Hippies were not going into bars and ordering Old Fashioneds and Gibsons — that’s what Don Draper and Roger Sterling were drinking,” Matus said. “And women were no longer ordering from patronizing sections of bar menus — think of drinks like the Pink Lady and the Lady Alexander, involving sweet cream or egg white or both. And they were ordering for themselves!”

Enter vodka.

“But vodka was there, looking clean and pure and yet sophisticated with a twist or olive garnish,” he said.

See TheDC’s full interview with Matus on his new book below:

Why a book on vodka? Is this really just a cry for an intervention?

No reading between the lines here—this is no cry for an intervention (unlike my next book on sex addiction). Seriously, I just started running into more and more people who were getting into the vodka business, either as investors or as full-time microdistillers. It reminded me of the 1849 Gold Rush. So I turned to our liquor lobby friends at the Distilled Spirits Council who revealed the staggering amount we drink and spend on something the government defines as flavorless, odorless, colorless, and without character. How on earth did this happen? And so a story in the Weekly Standard turned into a book proposal, which became the book.

How much vodka do we drink and how does it stack up to other spirits?

Last year Americans drank 53 million cases of brown spirits—we’re talking about whiskey, bourbon, Canadian and Irish whiskey, and Scotch combined. On the other hand, we went through 66 million cases of vodka. That comes to more than 157 million gallons of the stuff. Supplier revenue was over $5.6 billion and it took up 32 percent of the liquor market. Essentially one out of every three cocktails ordered at a bar is vodka-based. There are over a thousand brands, which again is rather remarkable for something defined as colorless, odorless, and flavorless.