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Virtuous Vodka 

Side Dishes: Local, organic distillery has two new options

Bars aren’t hurting for a variety of vodkas — the stuff runs the gamut from cheap to costly and comes flavored with everything from huckleberries to black pepper to bacon (really). But around here, new organic lemon and orange versions made by Green Mountain Distillers in Stowe are knocking competitors off the shelves — or so says company co-owner Tim Danahy. “The reception has been incredible. People are dumping their Absolut Citron and Stoli Ohranj,” he boasts.

What prompted the company to add flavorings to its quadruple-distilled Sunshine Vodka? “When we were tasting [flavored] vodkas, we thought a lot of them had an artificial taste,” Danahy recalls. “It took us a year to get the formula down. It definitely tastes like real lemons and oranges.”

Numerous Stowe restaurants, such as Piecasso and the eateries at Trapp Family Lodge and Stowe Mountain Lodge, have picked up the new fruity vodkas. Soon Danahy expects to see ’em in the Queen City. “It’s hard in Burlington because there’s so much absentee ownership,” he says, and explains that a restaurant’s local staffers may not be the ones choosing its booze. So far, he and business partner Harold Faircloth III have had good luck at the Vermont Pub & Brewery, Leunig’s and Halvorson’s.

To showcase its three vodkas, GMD has changed its packaging: The spiffy new bottles combine etching with paper labels printed in soy ink on recycled paper. Similarly, the company’s website is getting a long-overdue overhaul. One current problem? The page labeled “Whiskey” is blank.

But perhaps that’s by design. “We try to forget it’s there,” says Danahy of GMD’s whiskeys, which are barrel aging in a back room. “Our first batches are 4 years old now … We just sampled them a month and a half ago and they’re phenomenal. The original ones we did are Irish single malts.” But the plan is to wait three more years before putting the hooch on the market. “Every time we’re strapped for cash, we walk back and look at them,” Danahy says, laughing.

For now, fans can look forward to a cranberry vodka that GMD hopes to release around the holidays, and to a bracing new gin. When will it be available? Danahy’s not sure: “We’re working on a recipe, but we don’t do anything until we’re totally satisfied,” he says.

The Green Issue

Used to be that if you wanted a green house, your choices were forest green, sage, mint julep or seafoam spray. Today, green houses are more about R-values, sustainably cut lumber and low-flow toilets. The green-building revolution may not be televised, but it has arrived in Vermont and is making headlines.

This week, Ryan and Susan Hayes share their blueprint for a greener footprint with their ambitious plans for an earth-friendly house; Ken Picard asks which houses are green and which ones are “greenwashed”; Kevin Kelley visits Middlebury’s Good Point Recycling to find out where our electronic trash goes; and Lauren Ober contemplates “upcycling.” Shelburne’s Joe Nusbaum takes a tiny house on the road, as Alice Levitt reports; Food Editor Suzanne Podhaizer takes on takeout — containers.

We’ve only got one planet. Let’s not waste it.

This is just one article from our 2009 Green Issue. Click here for more Green Issue stories.

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About The Author

Suzanne Podhaizer

Suzanne Podhaizer

Former contributor Suzanne Podhaizer is an award-winning food writer (and the first Seven Days food editor) as well as a chef, farmer, and food-systems consultant. She has given talks at the Stone Barns Center for Agriculture's "Poultry School" and its flagship "Young Farmers' Conference." She can slaughter a... more


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