By Randy Mastronicola
Vodka, fun and Bill Murray—it’s easy to see the connection there, but why Slovenia Vodka? Bill told us recently, “When I drink Slovenia Vodka, I feel like I just had a facial. It literally opens up my eyes and spreads my eyelids farther apart, leaving me with enhanced vision and increased wisdom.”
Slovenia Vodka has received accolades, and is recognized as a legitimate player in the increasingly over-populated celebrity spirits world. It’s not just a vanity project; there’s real passion on the team.
The bottle concept has won an international design award. “Our bottle is unique,” said Peter. “It’s square, elongated, and the frosted sides captures the look of an icicle. It was designed at Steklarna Hrastnik in Slovenia. Just lay it down in your freezer, and there’s no worry about it rolling about.”
Peter is a serial restauranteur and vintner, with over 30 years in the kitchen and in the public eye. He’s revered in his profession, and no slouch when it comes to developing name recognition as a food personality; he’s regularly appeared in print, television and radio, and his 2007 stint on Iron Chef saw him beat out Bobby Flay in Season 4.
Peter has been lauded for spearheading New York’s Xaviars Restaurant Group, so named for Peter’s middle name, Xavier. The restaurants have each been heralded in their distinct ways. Xaviars, Freelance Café, Restaurant X, Bully Boy Bar and Xaviars X20 on the Hudson are some of his creations.
Recently, we spoke with Peter about another passion of his unrelated to food or wine: vodka.
How did you approach developing the blend?
I’ve made wine for years. So, I engaged somebody who had been making spirits in Slovenia, and I was able to get the University of Louisiana to do some research for me—and it turns out that buckwheat grows wild and abundantly throughout the country. Buckwheat adds a richness and the viscosity—on the palate—it’s very a different experience when you sip Slovenia vodka. I was looking for something that would give a unique mouthfeel, so this all tied in nicely.
Chefs are always looking for that magic ingredient…
Certainly. That exploration is what took a spirit that’s typically on the bland side in another direction.
What might be the connection between creating a great meal, a great restaurant and creating a great vodka?
I just had this wonderful idea to bring vodka to the country. I have this expertise and knew it could work, based on the past. The idea of buckwheat, the health benefits, the usage in the Asian culture—I just thought the timing was right to do something with it, to take that kind of a slant on it.
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