This is Tito Beveridge, carrying a bottle of the beverage that bears his name.
Tito Beveridge has been a fixture on the streets of Austin and Central Texas for years, nearly to the level of Leslie the transsexual mayoral candidate (image not safe for sensitive stomachs). He is a geologist and UT graduate who made flavored vodka as Christmas gifts for his friends. After having no luck finding financing, he leaped off the edge of a cliff in founding Texas’ first legal distillery, to the tune of $80,000 in debt, 12 maxed out credit cards, and two mortgages. In marketing his vodka, he took (and still takes, as far as I know) a very localized approach.
A geophysicist by trade, Beveridge’s idea of market research was to go into the nearest liquor store and ask them if they sold a lot of flavored vodka. “They told me they couldn’t give it away. They were going to throw rocks at the next guy who came in trying to sell them some.”
What Beveridge learned was that a high-quality vodka would sell much better than some candy-flavored knockoff.
He also learned to trust a woman’s taste:
“They told me that women are much more discriminating than men and that I should make something that would appeal to women.”
He began to see the wisdom in the advice when he noticed his female friends all drank either white wine or high-end vodka. “Women care more about quality than men. They don’t want to drink something that’s going to burn all the way down.”
Beveridge calls on his background as a geologist to explain the difference between men and women’s tastes. “I used to work in the oil fields and I’ve seen lots of guys sleeping on concrete. I’ve never seen a woman sleeping on concrete. Women will complain about the thread count in sheets. Guys are glad just to have sheets. So I thought there must be something to that. I decided that if I could make a vodka good enough for women, then it would certainly be good enough for men. That’s what I set out to do.”
Full disclosure. I have met Tito. I have toured his distillery and done a shot with him on separate occasions. That does nothing to discount the quality of his vodka. It is incredibly smooth, and one of the only vodkas I will drink straight. The advantage is it is about half the price of the other vodkas I consider in its class. If you don’t believe me, another (assumedly) impartial observer opines:
We’re going to go out on a limb and say Tito’s vodka is the smoothest we’ve ever tasted. That’s not to say there’s no better vodka out there, but between the taste and the price, which is an added bonus of a small company with low overhead and no importing costs, we’re Tito’s converts. We can’t think of any reason, barring two broken legs and a restraining order from the liquor store, why we won’t always have a bottle of Tito’s in our cabinet.
Tito’s won the double gold medal at the World Spirits Competition over 71 other vodkas after merely mailing a few bottles to the contest. A double gold is only presented when the spirit in question is the unanimous judges’ choice.
Texans love to support our own. Sometimes this stubbornness flies in the face of taste buds or common sense, but other times we get it right. When it comes to libations, we are doubly likely to prefer local. If you are in Texas, drink Tito’s with pride; if you hail from elsewhere and may have a couple of issues with Texans as a group, try not to hold that against Tito.