Saturday, March 07, 2009

People switching to cheap vodka and other cheap spirits

Welcome to another edition of "Signs that the economy is bad" here at The Itinerant Librarian. The New York Times has a column by Andrew Martin on "Reaching for the bottom shelf." Apparently the economy slowdown is having an effect on vodka sales, and people are starting to buy more of the cheap brands like Popov. Popov is an interesting case. According to the article,

"Even Diageo, the liquor conglomerate that owns the Popov brand, seems reluctant to own up to it. Popov, which can sell for less than $9 a 750-milliliter bottle, isn’t mentioned on its Web site, and when asked about the brand, a company spokeswoman kept trying to steer the conversation toward pricier spirits."

This is pretty much true. I tried doing a search myself, and it was next to impossible to find a corporate page for the brand. If Diageo does indeed sell the stuff, they must be doing it out of the back of vans in the middle of the night. There is not a single hint on the corporate website that they own the brand. If memory serves me right, I think the liquor store I run to outside of Smith County (our county is dry, go figure) to buy my liquor might carry it. But you know it is not a good sign when the company that carries it pretty much disowns it, even at a time when it is actually selling. And by the way, last time I did buy vodka, it was a cheap brand, Sobieski; it was a time I decided to get something other than Smirnoff's since that was on sale. Actually, it's pretty decent. So you see, even I have to make choices about my drinking needs with the bad economy.

Now, the fact that alcohol drinkers are switching down to cheaper brands of their favorite poison is not new. Last year, I pointed to another story about beer drinkers switching to cheaper brands. It was at the time when gas was expensive, and the bumper stickers of "Beer is cheaper than gas, so drink, don't drive" were appearing all over the place. It seems we may need to continue buying the cheap brands. In the case of vodka at least, technically it is a neutral spirit. This means, well, according to the article, "by government definition, vodka is supposed to be a neutral alcohol without distinctive character, aroma, taste or color, and some believe that the differences among vodkas are so subtle that only connoisseurs can distinguish them." I am not a connoisseur when it comes to vodka. I have a sense of what brands are cheap and which ones are premium, but that is about it. Ask me about wines, I know a lot more, but vodka, as long as it mixes well with whatever cocktail I may be trying out, it works for me.

Anyhow, just another sign that the economy is bad. And remember, if you choose to drink, please do so safely and responsibly.


Anonymous said...

Sobieski, now, that is a great vodka. Not like the "cheap" ones. It just does not cost as much as it should. Why? Somebody has to tell me.

Angel, librarian and educator said...

I do not know why it does not cost more. All I know is, at the time, it was on sale, and it worked for me. But now that I have tried, I would certainly say I would buy it again.