An Absolut New York Evening
Before Jay-Z took the stage on September 11 at Madison Square Garden, the sponsor of the concert, Absolut vodka, hosted a reception at the Garden's private clubhouse. I accepted the invitation not only because I knew the concert would rock - and it did! - but because I was curious to find out how Absolut vodka positions itself these days.
When I started my career in the mid-1990s, Absolut was the only brand I knew to ask for when I ordered drinks with my girlfriends. But when those outings turned into dates and toasts over promotions and engagements, it seemed like there was always a new fancy or unusual vodka to try (potato? organic?). Still, in my mind Absolut remains tried and true, with that royal blue lettering and beloved clear bottle. When ordering flavored vodka, I've never asked for any other brand.
Headed to the reception, though, I realized my Absolut knowledge was sadly out of date. I could not recall what had replaced the legendary ads featuring artist-decorated bottles, the campaign that had cemented my loyalty: In high school, I plastered the pink walls of my bedroom with those ads, carefully torn from my parent's magazines.
In the comfy confines of the Garden's wood-panelled clubhouse, I quickly got up to speed thanks to Alisa and Kris Wixom, who both work on the Absolut campaign for TBWA Chiat/Day New York.
At the reception, I had a Mandrin Mule, with Absolut Mandrin, Ginger Ale, and lime: a refreshing drink with good, not-too-sweet flavor. Other guests shared their impressions. "It's nice and to the point," said Deepak Sinha of his Citrus and Club. "It's clean and crisp and mixes well," said Margaret Santiago, who favors "an old-fashioned Screwdriver." "I'm having Absolut Mango. It is fantastic," said Mara Washington. Alina Leshiner liked the tea flavor of the BP3 cocktail - a recipe concocted in honor of Jay-Z's new album, The Blueprint 3, featuring Absolut Citron, iced tea, simple syrup, and lemon juice. Shane Hoyt, who has a rap album coming out this fall under the name Citizen Shane, tried the Mule and the BP3 and said, "I'm usually more of a Grey Goose guy but it's growing on me."
When I got home from the concert, I cued up "Run This Town," Jay-Z's first single from "The Blueprint 3" featuring Kanye West and Rihanna, who performed with Jay-Z at the Garden. Then I found a cool video on Absolut's Facebook page in which the slogan is spelled out in large-scale sculpture of balloons, ice, etc.: "In an Absolut world, doing things differently leads to something exceptional." I can't put it on my wall, but I dig it. And hey, Absolut, if you're reading this, what's this about an Absolut Boston flavor featuring black tea and elderflower? I'm waiting for Absolut New York!