Posted: August 01, 2009
Colorado Cool Stuff: Jokä Vodka
Paul Newman’s business model inspired Aspen vodka makerEric Peterson
After a career in real estate development, native New Yorker Joe Nedlin relocated to Aspen in 2004 and wanted to create a self-sustaining business that would give its profits to American veterans. Inspired by Paul Newman’s business model, he started with high-end golf clubs and skin care, but sales dropped with the onset of the recession, so he moved into a more recession-proof category: alcohol.
More specifically, Jokä Vodka, named for his “Joker” nickname when he served in the Army in the 1960. Jokä is distilled from sweet corn in Bend, Ore., and filtered through lava and charcoal five times. “That’s what gives it the flavor,” Nedlin says. “That and the quality of the water.”
Priced at the low end of the premium category, Jokä gives all profits — “$3 a bottle, minimum,” Nedlin says — to veterans via the Blue Star Mothers chapter in Grand Junction. “The whole thing is designed to help veterans. $25 to $35 retail.
Made by Aspen Black Diamond LLC, Aspen, (970) 618-0062, www.jokavodka.com. Available at numerous bars and liquor stores throughout Colorado.
Denver-based writer Eric Peterson is the author of Frommer's Colorado, Frommer's Montana & Wyoming, Frommer's Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks and the Ramble series of guidebooks, featuring first-person travelogues covering everything from atomic landmarks in New Mexico to celebrity gone wrong in Hollywood. Peterson has also recently written about backpacking in Yosemite, cross-country skiing in Yellowstone and downhill skiing in Colorado for such publications as Denver's Westword and The New York Daily News. He can be reached at Eptcb126@msn.com