Like I've said before, vodka distillers have an odd dilemma: The degree to which their product has been valued for the past decade or more is the degree to which bar patrons perceive it as able to "disappear" into a cheap, mass-produced juice product.
This, of course, is meagre gruel with which to sustain a trend and, as such, The Wall Street Journal has identified what it feels as "A Welcome Sign Of Vodka's Decline".
From the article:
But the popularity of vodka among foodies was always perplexing. Vodka's neutrality and uniformity would seem to be at odds with the slow-food crowd's embrace of robust flavors reflecting specific locales. Back in 2005, among the best bartenders, the revolt against vodka had begun, even if it was still too underground to be seen in Food & Wine's cocktail compilation. But now, at long last, as a revolutionary theorist might put it, the contradictions inherent in the vodka paradigm have become apparent. It's as though there were finally the realization that making cocktails with vodka is like making paella with instant rice -- it can be done, of course, but it doesn't exactly burnish one's culinary bona fides.
Out of hand, I tend to reject the media's tendency to demonstrate the success of one thing as having necessarily occurred at the expense of something else -- vodka will continue to be an extremely popular spirit category and will never go away. A world without Hangar One, for example, is almost too terrible to comprehend.
Then again, the amount of alcohol that one can consume in, say, a given year is fairly finite, the habits of my favorite musicians notwithstanding. If vodka is indeed declining after a period of heightened popularity, other spirit categories have a chance to shine.
Considering the increasing popularity of Brazilian culture in the northern hemisphere, the greater global attention on Brazil as a member of the BRIC countries, and a clear trend toward well-crafted cocktails, could it be said that we spirits aficionados are living in cachaça's moment?
Never mind the fact that, even with an unusual amount of help, the word caipirinha is difficult for most Americans to pronounce. The fact is that people are yearning for something new... and cachaça is particularly well-positioned.