Mix-Off Madness Continues 

Absolution: Just Peachy

A few years ago, I was perusing the magazine section in a grocery store and was amazed to see two women frantically pulling magazines from the racks, flipping them over and shouting to each other.

"I've got this one," one would say, throwing the magazine back onto the shelves.

"This one's new," the other would say, throwing the copy into their grocery cart.

They proceeded to systematically look at every magazine and wound up with about a half-dozen in their cart. I had witnessed my first Absolut ad collecting frenzy.

Absolut vodka ad collecting has become a huge movement in the last 20 years. It's no wonder-during that time, Absolut advertisements have redefined liquor marketing, by using artists to recreate the distinct shape of the Absolut bottle in their own image. They've co-opted cultural icons like the lava lamp for an Absolut Citron campaign and created visually stunning graphics and, well, pure art for the bottles. Absolut has branded and marketed their Vodka to a unique and sophisticated niche-the upwardly mobile hipsters.

Visiting absolutad.com, a hobby Web site, ads are documented and priced anywhere from $3 to $75 for an Absolut Americana ad.

Making vodka hip through advertising has seen a rise in vodka's popularity. Since 1992, there has been a sharp rise in vodka sales. Today it accounts for 25 percent of all liquor sales. People no longer order just a vodka tonic or vodka martini, they call their vodkas by name. And the brand with the biggest visibility is Absolut.

Big spirit companies refuse to rest on their laurels, however.

By definition-meaning U.S. Federal description-vodka is colorless and odorless. Vodka aficionados know this is not true. In recent years, Vodka companies have issued a bevy of flavored vodkas. Absolut practically launched the flavored vodka revolution and continues to lead the field. Absolut has created flavors such as Peppar, Kurant, Mandarin, Citron, Raspberri and, launched this May, Absolut Peach.

(See BW's very first feature "Absolut Censorship", July 21, 1992, about local artist Kevan Smith's Absolut ad censored by then Governor Cecil Andrus online at www.boiseweekly.com.)

Peachy Night at the Martini Mix-Off

If you pick one night to swagger with the Martini Mix-Off judges, it's should be this Thursday, the third in our four-week drinkfest. It promises to be a peachy night.

Beginning at Happy Fish, bartender Jeff Kempthorne prepares the Happy Fish Classic with Plymouth gin and a combo Gibson/Martini garnish. One of Boise's best sushi joints would be amiss not to include America's fastest growing alcoholic category, sake, in a drink. The Geisha Girl Sake-tini with Harushika sake and Choya plum wine will be a nice departure from hard spirits. Finish off Happy Fish with the Wet Peach using Absolut Peach vodka and garnished with a peach and edible orchids.

At eight o'clock, the judges slide into their stretch limo for a ride to the Bar at the Grove Hotel, where mixologist Michael Cunningham will serve up the Scottish (10), a gin and single malt concoction. Another peach-flavored drink, the Plush Peach with Sygo Peach vodka, will be followed by a sweet Absolut Indulgence garnished with a white-chocolate swizzle stick.

At nine o'clock, the judges stagger in to the last bar of the night, The Milky Way, where they'll find Pat Carden, last year's classic champion, and Will Hay. The Ten-by-Ten Martini, Pat's famous 10-minute martini made with Tanqueray No. Ten gin, starts the ninth inning. See the Woman, a light and subtle martini using Parfait Amour and Martin Miller's reformed London gin, is sure to please. Finishing the evening will be the Peachy Keen, with Absolut Peach, topped with Ruggeri Prosecco Italian sparkling wine. Salut!

Martini Mix-Off tickets are available for $60 at any participating restaurant. A ticket entitles you to one martini of your choice at all 12 bars and restaurants. Not only that, it gets you into the gala event on June 4 and a final 13th drink at the Boise Art Museum Martini Gala. Enjoy your martinis at each participating restaurant during the entire month of May or join the judges this Thursday night. Proceeds go to benefit the Boise Art Museum.

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