Some backstory: Our/Detroit is the latest incarnation of Our/Vodka, a global initiative bankrolled by Pernod Ricard Group, the alcohol conglomerate that owns Absolut and Seagram's, among other brands. The first Our/Vodka distillery opened in Berlin last year, and Detroit's is the second, opening earlier this month. Detroit's is the first U.S. location, with the next slated to open in Seattle in October, and locations in New York and Los Angeles locations will follow.
So is Our/Detroit a local distillery or a global conglomerate? According to partner Sara Aldridge, who was mingling among the crowd that gathered on a weekday evening, it's a little bit of both. While all locations use the same vodka recipe, they use locally-sourced ingredients, which Aldridge says will add nuance to each city's vodka. We remain skeptical as to how detectable that nuance will be, though: according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, vodka is by its very definition a neutral spirit "without distinctive character, aroma, taste or color." The idea is apparently that if all vodkas are more or less equal, maybe people will go for the locally-made one.
So the vodka itself is not the star of the show here. It's just an excuse to throw other things into the mix — much like how people drink vodka, anyway. Our/Detroit prominently features a number of locally-made mixers and other ingredients, such as McClure's Bloody Mary mix, for example. We sip a sweet, cucumber-infused mix called Nothing Elegant, named after Aldridge's DJ night.
The bottles are sold at $16.99 for a pint, the only size available. Decor is the oh-so fashionable rustic aesthetic: the bottles' labels are minimal white circles with black text, the walls are white, the black shelves house tidy rows of bottles bookended by hipster pets like cacti and succulents. It felt a bit too right when Washed Up's "Feel It All Around," better known as the theme song to Portlandia, came on the P.A.
Aldridge says that Our/Detroit has the distinction of being the only Our/Vodka distillery so far with a tasting room. A window peers into the attached room where you can apparently watch the magic of vodka distillation happen before your eyes — though nothing was going on when we visited.
For now, Our/Detroit is working on making the bottles available in local stores and bars, starting with its Mexicantown neighbors. Aldridge says connecting with the immediate locals is important to her, and it should be noted that the menu is printed in both English and Spanish, though we didn't hear anyone in the bar speaking in Spanish.
Vodka is a potent potable, and a small food menu would be nice to curb some of the side effects of drinking it. Aside from some individually-wrapped servings of Sister Pie available for purchase, the only edibles appeared to be some bowls of wasabi peas. We advise either pregaming or ending the night at the nearby Mexican Village if you plan on logging in a drinking session here. mt