This is one of those posts where I have a little to say about a bunch of stuff, so rather than force out a long post about any one of them I’ve decided to throw them all together.
Before I get started, happy new year to everyone, hope it was a great one.
Now onto the action.
I can’t remember exactly when I had this thought, but all of a sudden it popped into my head: There was a day when the wheel wasn’t even a glimmer in someone’s eye. Same thing with computers, pens, cell phones and shoes. All these things had to be invented, which means that somebody had the wherewithal to actually make it happen. It’s amazing and very encouraging to think there are still huge innovations that no one has even begun to think of.
At about 1:30 on New Years Eve a jazz musician sat down at the bar next to me and we started talking. One of my kicks lately has been to ask people who are passionate about what they do who it is they respect the most and why. I want to understand what it is that makes that person, who I’ve probably only heard of in passing, so talented. When he was talking about soloists he said what made them great was that you never knew what note they were going to play next. They never tipped their hand: Every note was a surprise. This also happens to be one of the things that makes a great wide receiver in football. When a great WR goes out for a route he knows it, the quarterback knows it but the defensive back has no clue whether he’s going to turn inside, outside or run straight upfield.
Turns out the vodka craze is in large part due to great marketing. A Moscow Mule is mostly a combination of vodka and ginger beer. Turns out John G. Martin had recently bought Smirnoff (originally called Smirnov, which apparently was a little too Russian-sounding) and needed a way to promote the booze when everyone was drinking whiskey. What Martin decided to do was get together with Jack Morgan, then owner of the Cock’n Bull in LA who also had a ginger-beer franchise. They placed their concoction in specially-engraved copper mugs made by another friend with a struggling business. Then came some real marketing: “He bought one of the first Polaroid cameras and asked barmen to pose with a Moscow Mule copper mug and a bottle of Smirnoff vodka. Then he would leave one copy of the photo at the bar and take a second copy to the bar next door to show them that their competitors were selling their concoction. Between 1947 and 1950, thanks to their invention, Smirnoff vodka case columns more than tripled and nearly doubled in 1951.” As a side note, after reading this I ordered a copy of Straight Up or On the Rocks: The Story of the American Cocktail.
Well, that’s it for now. Hope that helps you ease into the new year. Let me know what you think about this stuff, would love to discuss and see if there are some bigger themes for upcoming entries.