Our/Detroit: Fake Local Vodka Promises 'Meaningful Community Conversations'

March 13, 2014, 12:52 PM

Craft spirits are a welcome trend. As with craft beer and local wineries, there is something fun about being able to get a well-made drink and then talking with the people who made it about why it's so good. Valentine Distillery in Ferndale and Two James' in Corktown are excellent places that make excellent liquor.

Unfortunately, as with all things interesting and local, craft spirits have been co-opted. Consider "Our/Detroit" vodka. It's locally produced! It cares about the community! It's a project of the French distillery giant Pernod Ricard Group...wait what? Pernod Ricard, whose brands include Absolut, Jameson, and Seagram and whose annual revenues top $7 billion, is behind this faux-local vodka.

Our/Detroit vodka is made locally with local ingredients, true, but made with a uniform recipe replicated in other Our/____ cities.

Alcademics: The new product is called “Our/Berlin”. The distillery is run on its own terms, independently from Pernot Ricard Germany. Initiators behind the “start-up”  are The Absolut Company and the international holding of the corporation, the Pernod Ricard Group. In order to simulate start-up-criteria, the new vodka is not available via the usual distributing channels of Pernod Ricard. At the same time, Berlin clubs and bars are major target markets, as the company’s website states. With 37,5 % Vol. and at 350 ml per bottle, “Our/Berlin” is obviously meant to cover a different segment than Absolut Vodka, its bigger brother in the cooperation.

I don't care how locally run this thing claims to be. Multi-billion dollar liquor holding companies don't start faux-local brands to not get a cut. Also, Coca-Cola has local bottling plants that use at least one local ingredient (water) but you don't see them fapping about saving Detroit one bottle at a time.

Our/Detroit, on the other hand, is like a self-parody of an earnest Detroit start-up. Let's take a look at their website...

This premium vodka uses only fine local ingredients and is distilled right here in Detroit. We're launching this business as a catalyst for meaningful community conversations, inspiring exchanges and of course, the occasional party.

Nope. You're launching your business to make money selling vodka. If you truly wanted to create a "catalyst for meaningful community conversations," you would have earned a social work degree, became a community organizer, and formed a neighborhood association.

Detroit is more than just a place, Detroit is a state of mind and a way of life. It is a city of innovation and resilience, juxtaposition and innovation, of reinvention and rebirth. This urban metropolis is a phoenix of sorts, rising from the ashes due to the fierce loyalty and determination of artists, farmers, teachers, social justice fighters, restaurateurs, etc. that strive to redefine and rebuild the city. We are a city of industrious entrepreneurs who have proven that if you can dream it, you can be it. Our/Detroit aims to work alongside the community to catalyze enagagement and highlight the amazing people here.

Yeah, no. You aren't going to "catalyze engagement" so much as you are cynically using our own local identity to sell us vodka to enrich a multinational corporation that doesn't want you to know it is a multinational corporation because derp local derp craft derp community.

Southwest Detroit is a region of the city that is comprised of several neighborhoods including Delray, Hubbard-Richard, Hubbard Farms, Boynton-Oakwood Heights, and Springwells Village. It is lovingly known as Mexicantown because of Detroit's vibrant Hispanic community living there. This region's cultural fabric is what makes 2545 Bagley such a special place to house the Our/Detroit distillery. The distillery and juice room will serve multiple functions as a community gathering space for relevant discourse and discussion.

Ummm...that's kind of wrong. Maybe the distinction isn't clear from the Pernod Ricard Group's headquarters in Paris, France but the "Delray, Hubbard-Richard, Hubbard Farms, Boynton-Oakwood Heights, and Springwells Village" aren't (lovingly or otherwise) known as Mexicantown. Mexicantown is it's own southwest Detroit neighborhood.

And, though there are may Hispanic Detroiters of various ethnicities, Mexicantown is called Mexicantown because of its population of Mexican-American residents. There is a difference between ethnicity (Hispanic) and nationality (Mexican). No one would say San Francisco's Chinatown is called that because of it's Asian community.

Overall we are constantly seeking new projects and opportunities to engage our community in meaningful ways.

Read more:  Our/Detroit

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