Judging it on bottle alone, New Amsterdam Vodka looks like a sleek, Manhattan-based vodka brand intended for Big Apple power brokers. It’s the most skyscraper-looking vodka of any brand we know. Surprisingly, though, it’s actually a fairly accessible, value-driven brand that does its best marketing by appealing to the young-and-hungry millennial crowd.
Considering the fair price point — you can get the vodka or gin for roughly $15 or $20 — and the reliably powerful name behind the brand, itself, New Amsterdam (i.e., the 17th-century name for Manhattan), is in a decent position to stick around for a while, meaning it’s not a bad idea to get to know it (just don’t use it in a Martini, see below). Here are eight things you need to know about New Amsterdam vodka (and gin).
It’s close cousins with Boone’s Farm and André ‘Champagne.’
New Amsterdam is a vodka and gin brand conjured up by E&J Gallo, a mega-umbrella winery and distributor based out of Modesto, Calif. Gallo was founded in 1933 with run-of-the-mill ambitions but today has a multitude of brands underneath it. Among them are many names you might now, such as Barefoot, Naked Grape, and Mirassou — not to mention André “Champagne” and Boone’s Farm, which, for the uninitiated, is a range of flavored low-ABV fruit wine coolers that come in 6-packs (and often lead to poor choices made while wearing daisy duke overalls).
Both the gin and vodka are grain-based. (Mostly.)
Both New Amsterdam gin and vodka are made with grain, and are distilled five times (meaning you don’t have to go looking for cereal notes on the nose or lingering, rounded sweetness on the mouthfeel). The recent New Amsterdam 100 Proof Vodka is made with corn, giving it a mild moonshine vibe but in sum doing little for the final flavor, as vodka is intentionally stripped of oils and congeners (molecules that would impart distinctive flavor).
The gin came first, but the vodka took over.
New Amsterdam Gin debuted in 2008. The brand released its vodka in 2011. Since then, the vodka has taken over in terms of its brand prominence. There’s the regular New Amsterdam Vodka, the New Amsterdam 100 Proof, plus a line of fruit flavors (Citron, Coconut, Pineapple, Red Berry, Mango, Peach, Watermelon, Apple, Orange, Lemon, and Raspberry). To the confusion of some, the gin was recently rebranded as “Stratusphere,” with an Original and a slightly higher-ABV London Dry version.
The vodka is record-setting.
After its debut, New Amsterdam became the fastest-growing vodka brand in the world, setting records for how quickly it reached first the 1-million-case, and, later, the 5-million-case threshold.
PSA: New Amsterdam is not a Martini gin.
Review after review reiterates that New Amsterdam’s standard gin isn’t ideal for Martinis — largely owing to its heavier emphasis on citrus. (One reviewer noted “the finish is just orange and black pepper,” while another reviewer noted the “cloying sweet, almost artificial orange” flavor. The best gins for making a Martini, in our humble opinion, tend more toward herbaceous, woodsy, spicy, and leaner floral flavors. There are gin cocktails in which citrusy flavors work, FYI — see the Negroni.
They made up a nightmarish slogan to target millennials.
New Amsterdam’s 2017 “Pour Your Soul Out” kind of sounds like a demon’s command at the end of a horror movie. Yet the brand came up with the slogan to target 21- to 29-year-old cash-strapped (and yet passionate) millennials. “It was the perfect tagline for a brand that wanted to celebrate the hustlers, the dreamers, and the doers,” explained New Amsterdam director of marketing Michael Sachs. The flagship ad, which debuted during the NBA Finals, featured a drummer who “gives 110 percent to his art,” which is cool because half-hearted drumming actually just looks like this.
New Amsterdam likes sports marketing. Mostly hockey.
Gatorade can understandably claim to have “synergy” with professional athletics. But the lack of obvious connection between vodka and sports doesn’t stop Gallo from marketing booze products with pro athletes and sports teams. Gallo paired New Amsterdam Gin with the Oakland Raiders in the 2010-2011 season. It also sponsored Barstool Sports’ Spittin’ Chiclets hockey podcast in 2018. And since 2018, it’s been the official vodka of the NHL, which makes sense because both vodka and hockey lead to dudes fighting shirtless and then telling each other “I love you, bro.”
When life gave New Amsterdam Ryan Whitney, they made pink lemonade.
That’s the expression, right? In 2019, New Amsterdam even debuted a pink lemonade-vodka mix called The Pink Whitney for pro hockey fans in honor of former Pittsburgh Penguin Ryan Whitney’s (maybe surprising) favorite drink: pink lemonade mixed with vodka. Not unlike New Amsterdam Vodka after its debut, the stuff was wildly popular, flying off the shelves by the case-load — because it turns out all you need to do to revive the allure of the lemonade stand in the adult heart is add 30 percent ABV.
Published: July 24, 2020