Put down that bloody mary mix. Don’t even think about reaching for the cranberry juice. There’s a new vodka in town, and it’s meant to be savored, straight up.
“A lot of vodka is catered towards younger drinkers and women. There’s low-cal, flavored this or that — birthday cake and chocolate chip and whipped cream,” says David Solomon of Golia Vodka. “We wanted a vodka that can be enjoyed the way vodka was intended — neat or on the rocks.”
Golia, made in Mongolia, has been around for a while in the Asian country in a slightly different formulation and sold under a different name — one that “would have been hard to pronounce here,” Solomon says. He discovered it while visiting his friend Lee Cashell, a native of Wilmington, Del., who’d been working as a trader in Hong Kong when he decided to pop up to Mongolia and promptly fell in love with his tour guide, the daughter of a local government minister.
Fast forward about a decade: Cashell, now married to the tour guide and running one of Mongolia’s largest conglomerates, extended an invite to his old pal Solomon from Philadelphia, who had founded a 20-store Toys “R” Us franchise and DVD vending-machine company Redbox, among other successful commercial endeavors. They sat down to discuss business opportunities.
“We were talking about things we could do together and I said ‘this vodka we’re drinking is the best vodka I ever had in my life. Instead of importing, let’s export this incredible vodka,’” recalls Solomon.
Golia, now available in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and New York, is made with water from an underground well in Mongolia, where “the water is so clear you can literally see fish 50 feet below the surface,” Solomon says. “It’s untouched by man, untouched by chemicals.” Next comes the wheat, from a region known for its mineral-rich soil. The ingredients are distilled a minimum of six times through silver and platinum filters, giving Golia it’s smooth taste. (This writer, never a fan of vodka, was pleasantly surprised by the complete lack of burn after even a sizeable sip.)
Solomon and team are marketing Golia as a rugged and adventurous choice – it’s the official vodka of the Philadephia Flyers and the New Jersey Devils, targeted toward “guys age 25 to 54,” he says, “and the women who love them.”
If vodka straight up just isn’t your thing, try one of these Golia-approved cocktails.
Rugged Root Beer
1 oz. Golia Vodka
.5 oz. Jagermeister
.5 oz. Drambuie
3 dashes of Angostura bitters
Top with craft root beer (approximately 2-3 oz)
Stir lightly and garnish with a cherry
1.5 oz. Golia Vodka
1.5 oz. Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur
.5 oz. fresh lime juice
Fill with red bull (2-3 oz.)
3 dashes Angostura Bitters
Garnish with a mint sprig and two lime wedges