“When we first came up with this idea, no one thought it was a good one.” That’s how Sam Chereskin, the co-owner of Misadventure and Company, describes the initial steps of creating his unusual, but er...unique brand of recycled vodka.
And while “recycling vodka” kind of sounds like what you do when you get sick from drinking too much vodka, here it refers to vodka that’s actually made out of recycled materials. And in this case recycled materials = old, stale bread and baked goods.
According to GrubStreet, Chereskin and his partner Whit Rigali decided to put “vodka’s charcoal filtration process to the test” when they came up with the idea to use the ingredients and waste that food banks couldn’t serve to distill and create their own vodka. After a bit of experimenting—namely figuring out the finer points of distilling with old Twinkies—the pair was able to get their business not only off the ground, but running full sprint. Now, Chereskin and Rigali are able to turn weekly shipments of unusable products from local food banks in San Diego into an environmentally friendly and delicious vodka. Win-win!
Rigali explained the process to NBC San Diego: ““We get twinkies, ho hos, French baguettes, crullers, you name it. The whole bakery aisle goes into our vodka…Essentially, all these baked goods have starches and sugars inside them, which are the building blocks to making any type of alcohol.” And Rigali is right about that. Most vodka produced today is made from grains such as sorghum, corn, rye, or wheat, which means that combining stale and outdated bakery items into a large doughy mash is actually the perfect starter for creating their clear spirit.
From there, the mashed dough has yeast added to it, which eats the sugar and produces alcohol, as well as a kind of “bread beer.” The alcohol is then distilled and filtered from that bread beer, and ta da: vodka.
And the benefits of creating vodka this way are numerous. For starters, there’s the very obvious and very impactful reduction in food waste. Currently, Chereskin and Rigali are collecting 1,000 pounds of waste from local food banks EVERY WEEK, and turning it into a consumer product. On top of that, the fact that they don’t need to create their own dough or starter means that their production costs are significantly lower, allowing them to sell vodka produced at high quality for only about $22 a bottle. Not a bad deal.
Overall, this seems like a business that’s destined for success, as long as people keep creating food waste and drinking alcohol.
So, yeah, they’ve got nothing to worry about.
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