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Brother, Won’t You Buy A Drink for Iceland?


When a bottle of Icelandic Reyka Vodka showed up on my desk a few months ago, I read the press release that accompanied it with mild hostility: “You’ve already given your car, home, and office an eco-friendly makeover,” it declared, forcing me to respond: Actually, vodka, now that you bring it up, I haven’t. My car is old and broken, and my office is exactly how it was the day I showed up; people who give things eco-friendly makeovers are people who have way more time and money than I do.

But the press release ignored me, continuing: “Made in Iceland, Reyka Vodka uses geothermal energy to power their facilities—a clean and sustainable energy source. It’s one more step in the right direction.”

Yeah, I told the vodka, except that you’ve got to balance your geothermal energy with the petroleum used to haul vodka from Iceland to here, and Minnesotan farmers are raising corn for vodka right here. So is it more eco-friendly to buy Icelandic geothermal vodka or, say, Shakers Vodka, or Prairie Organic Vodka? I’m guessing the latter.

Ignoring me again, the press release raced on: “The United Nations recently awarded Iceland as ‘the best place to live’ based on life expectancy, education levels, and real per capita income. And, due to the fact that 72 percent of all energy used there is renewable, Iceland has clean air, unpolluted water, and happy inhabitants.”

To which I replied: Well you don’t need my help then, do you? For any PR professionals reading this, ‘We’ve got it all figured out’ is not a compelling marketing narrative.

But what a difference a few months make! Now poor, overextended Iceland is on the verge of bankruptcy and I feel for them. Doing my part for Iceland, last week I bought Emilíana Torrini’s CD (she’s kind of like Bjork, without the screeching). But what can you do? Well, if you buy a lot of premium vodka: Brother, you can spare Iceland a dime (or $24.99, which is actually what a liter of Reyka Vodka costs).

Also: I am hereby awarding this bottle of Reyka Vodka to the person who writes in with the best financial crisis story. Rules of the contest: Post up to 2,000 words on the financial crisis—tragic, personal, funny, whatever you’ve got—in the comments here before midnight, December 31, and I’ll award the vodka to whichever story I like best. (The contest is only open to people in the lower 48; I’m not mailing vodka back to Iceland, people.) Good luck.

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Minnesota Monthly's Taste Blog answers your restaurant and dining questions, dishes on latest discoveries, reflects on breaking news, and generally brings the plate to the page with a skilled crew of experts: Learn more about the Taste bloggers.

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