We first met Mark, founder of Good Vodka, on a clubhouse about why Tito's had to be the only vodka brand on the block. Good Vodka is distilled using the coffee fruit that might otherwise be discarded and pairs super well with AVEC -- scroll down for a recipe and learn more about Mark!
Why did you start Good Vodka and what makes it different?
I’ve worked in and around spirits for more than a decade–distilling them, writing about them for magazines, branding them–and when it came to the latter two, it always frustrated me when a spirit would launch with literally nothing interesting to say about the actual liquid inside of it--just the same old corn ethanol under a new label. So when my business partner, Tristan Willey, told me about this idea he had to make alcohol from coffee fruit waste, I thought: that’s the kind of brand that actually has a reason to exist. And it really should exist. That was back in 2015, and we spent the next six years trying to make it a reality. It was not easy. Just moving the fruit waste off the farms took us months to sort out. It’s not a stretch to say there’s nothing else like it--as far as we know, it’s the only spirit distilled from coffee fruit on the market, and one of just a small handful made from waste byproducts.
Picture of Mark in NY
Favorite drinking story (can be with or without alc).
In early 2017, we decided that before we went any further, we would have to actually try to distill the coffee fruit. That was complicated because there was no way to import the fresh fruit into the United States--there was literally no Customs designation for it, and the dried stuff marketed as cascara tea was not the same. So we shipped a small still down to an Airbnb in Colombia, rigged it up to a hotplate and the kitchen sink, and made some of the first coffee fruit distillate ever. That was pretty wild–anytime you’re drinking something that has basically no historical precedent, it’s a memorable experience. I still have some of that batch!
One thing you want to do the next time you drink with someone.
Karaoke. God, I miss karaoke. One of the last things I did before the pandemic was go out singing with some friends in San Francisco’s Japantown. It’s been a year and I just have so many power ballads built up inside of me.
Something you are trying to get better at?
Also karaoke, to be honest.
Favorite AVEC pairing.
I’m a big fan of what I like to call the “sip-and-mix,” which is where you take a sip of something and fill the void in the can with a splash of Good Vodka. A splash of Good Vodka goes great with everything, but especially the Yuzu & Lime, and I think it technically qualifies as Low-ABV. That said, I realize it’s a little gauche to name my own brand here, so I will say rye whiskey + Avec Ginger is a very close second.
GOOD VODKA avec YUZU &LIME
2oz good vodka
1 can AVEC Yuzu & Lime
Simple: Stir vodka over ice. Top AVEC. Add basil to garnish.
Fancy: Muddle basil in shaker. Add ice and vodka. Shake and strain into glass. Top AVEC.