Food stuff

Oct 13, 1999 at 12:00 am


I’m a Libra, which means generally I’m pretty balanced. But like any other mere mortal, I’m not immune to the intoxicating powers of really good vodka.

Luckily, our fair city is one of a handful of locales that can reconcile astrological spirits with fine spirits. What’s the connection, you ask? Why, Royal Oak-based Zodiac Vodka, of course.

The tippy-top-shelf vodka rolled out last August, boasting an irresistible consumer combination of super-premium quality and super-catchy package design.

"When we first started this project, I had read that a large majority of Americans have at least a passing interest in astrology. And I saw all these wacky names for vodkas on the market, names some people can’t even pronounce," says Canton native Marc Beginin, president of Koan Spirits, which produces, markets and distributes Zodiac Vodka.

Over the next year, Zodiac will unveil a bottle design for each astrological sign. There are already bottles for Taurus and Gemini, with Virgo and Leo on the way. (The rhyme and reason as to which signs hit the shelves at any given time is left to the vagaries of the production schedule of the French firm that designs and produces the bottles.)

The vessels are lovely, funky creations that merge astrological elements with relief-sculpted glasswork and nouveau-cosmic artwork that screams, "Collect me! Give me as a gift!"

Beginin stresses that, in keeping with that Motor City commercial axiom, quality is job one with Zodiac. It’s the only American-made luxury vodka, putting it in lofty company worldwide with such brands as Belvedere and Chopin and above the Skyys and Stolichnayas. You see, Zodiac’s a potato-based vodka.

"It takes five to six times more time and effort to produce potato vodka," explains Beginin, adding that most vodka is made from grains.

At $29.99 a fifth, Zodiac’s obviously not aimed to the folks in the cheap seats. Judging by the response thus far, considerate and/or conspicuous consumers are looking for a really good sipping spirit.

"(Zodiac) is definitely geared for the vodka connoisseur, but people love it because it’s smooth," says Beginin.

After the initial rollout of Zodiac in 150 or so Michigan retail and restaurant locations, Koan has now expanded distribution to more than 250 locales, in addition to its growing presence in Idaho (you know, where the potatoes are grown and where the vodka’s actually made) and Colorado (from whence springs the Rocky Mountain spring water used in Zodiac’s production).

So – even if Hiram Walker and Stroh’s have pulled up stakes and split the area, and Smirnoff will leave next year – Detroiters can boast while they toast with the crème de la vodka crème. Break out the cranberry juice, it’s time to get your chart read.

Visit Zodiac Vodka online. Chris Handyside


Billed as "Detroit’s Blue Eyes," Mike Carluccio presents a dinner concert at Baker’s of Milford on Sunday, Oct. 17. Carluccio sings the big band music of the ’20s in a voice that is smooth and sweet. Admission includes a four-course dinner. Tickets $50, in advance only. Call 248-685-0505. … Dearborn’s Peacock restaurant (4045 Maple, 313-582-2344) could be called the Phoenix – it’s now renovated and reopened after a devastating fire a year ago. Visit and pay owner Aji Ahluwalia compliments on the traditional Indian cuisine.