Maceration in Moderation Is Healthy

After a run in with Belvedere vodka's Viking lass-led explanation of macerated spirits, we went on a long journey into the dark heart of syrupy impostors in a quest to find the real thing.

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The Belevedere "Maceration is Natural" campaign introduces the word macerate to the happy hour crowd in a couple of ways: One, as a silly pun which they beat (seriously, no pun intended on our part) long after it is dead on their website where your Swedish-vikingesque host, Claire (what sort of name is that for a Nordic goddess?) teaches her tall dumb male assistant how to macerate, while the voiceover guides: "Maceration takes time ... is all about technique," etc. When the maceration process is complete, some Murray Hill girls bob around sipping their vodkas and saying things like "I like to macerate" (it's just like being at Tenjune).

Two, they use the word correctly, which is actually a little disappointing given number one. The word macerate is used almost exclusively in the wine-making industry referring to the period of time during which the skins of the grapes are in contact with the fruit. This gives extra flavor and color to the wine and is in fact what makes red wine red. (There is also something called "extended maceration" which, thankfully, Belvie didn't get its hands on.)

Most flavored vodkas are, according to the bartender at Employees Only (we did copious field research, as you can see to get the bottom of this for you, dear reader),  who got his start infusing alcohol at a Russian bar in SOHO, "made with flavors we liked as children" and are "kind of like drinking bubble gum." The alternative? he says use fresh or dried fruit or make a hot tea-like infusion using a portion of the alcohol and various spices and herbs. At EO's sister establishment, Macao Trading, a version of the gimlet is made with Keffir lime-infused gin.

Of course, throwing some fruit in a bottle of vodka is not the same as macerating it (even if you did pick the peaches yourself and dry them for 24 hours first) EO recommends the Napa Valley based and family-owned micro-distillery Charbay  which has been making flavored vodka with California-grown fruit for over 10 years. Or, go ahead and order a Belevedere citrus and soda, which is, sigh, actually made from fruit.

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