Finnish vodka brand Finlandia Vodka celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Created with pure glacial spring water and Suomi barley under the founding principles of nature (luonto), state-of-the-art-distillation (tislaus) and design (muotoilu), Finlandia honors the best of its homeland.
In a Zoom event on Nov. 12, Finlandia’s master mixologist Pekka Pellinen noted that when the Helsinki-based vodka brand launched in 1970, Finland’s government controlled all aspects of the alcohol business. The state-owned beverage alcohol company Alko developed the premium brand only for export.
The U.S was one of the first countries to import Finlandia, along with the then-West Germany, France and Austria. “It took two to three years before they started to sell Finlandia in Finland,” Pellinen said.
Finlandia, which has been owned by Brown-Forman Corp. since 2004, was one of the first higher-end vodkas to introduce natural flavors with the launch of Finlandia Cranberry in 1994. The brand’s packaging, which has evolved over time, is inspired by its Nordic roots with characteristics of ice and the Midnight Sun.
Pellinen demonstrated how to make some of his favorite holiday cocktails, including the Espresso Martini and Bloody Mary. For his Bloody Mary, Pellinen added ¼ oz. of Finlandia grapefruit vodka, in addition to ¾ oz. of the plain vodka, “which gives it a nice fresh citrus taste.”
He also made a sustainable cocktail, the Apple Core Sour (shown atop). Finland is one of the most sustainable countries in the world, Pellinen noted, and being green is part of the brand’s essence. Finlandia’s production site holds an ISO 14001 certificate for the high standards of environmental management; the company boasts a waste recycling and recovery rate of 99.9%.
Here’s the recipe for Pellinen’s zero-waste cocktail.
Apple Core Sour
1 Apple core
1 part Finlandia vodka
½ part Lemon juice (or ½ teaspoon citric acid)
½ part Honey syrup (2 parts honey: 1 part water)
¼ part Aquafaba (chickpea brine)
Pinch of salt
Combine ingredients and muddle. Hard shake and fine strain into rocks with ice. Garnish with an apple and lemon twist.