If SNL's "The Californians" sketch had lived to see the crest of the kale trend, you could pull over to the side of the 10 or the 5 or the 101—but probably not any of the canyons, where there's like, almost no shoulder, dude—and place a safe bet that there would've been an entire skit devoted to the superfood. But now, as if plucked from the minds behind the quintessential L.A. satire, the most stereotypical Los Angeles alcohol has arrived—and it's honestly pretty good.
Meet VING Vodka, an all-organic, gluten-free, non-GMO, additive-free, sugar-free, locally-made spirit that comes infused with kale, cucumber and lemon peel. "I wanted it to be the cleanest, highest-quality sipping vodka on the market," says Flo Vinger, creator and CEO.
Vinger, a writer, actor, dancer and all-around storyteller, was getting frustrated within the entertainment industry—we're not kidding, this really is the most L.A. vodka—and turned her attention to learning about spirits and cocktails. When multiple members of her family were diagnosed with cancer, the health-minded Vinger began researching the benefits of kale, while simultaneously educating herself in infusions. "I wondered if anyone had done a kale infusion," she says, "so I did my research and found it didn't exist [commercially]."
What came next were four years of off-and-on trial and error, with Vinger infusing in her home. Because of her insistence on eschewing chemicals, the colors, scents and flavors changed drastically; in one trial, the product was a beautiful green, "but a week or so later it was camel-piss yellow," she laughs. After years and countless batches, she's released VING unto the world thanks to the help of a Ventura distillery, which provides a non-GMO, corn-based spirit made with filtered water. From there, Vinger picks up the produce from an all-organic supplier, then cleans and chops it herself.
"What [the spirits industry does] is advertising geared toward the fitness community and the health-and-wellness-minded person, but they're still selling junky products," Vinger says. "They're not the best ingredients you're getting served ... Because [VING's] such a clean spirit, I'm finding people are having less of an allergic reaction to vodka because I'm stripping out the junk that a lot of other companies are putting into their product. They'll say, 'the essence of' something, but what does that mean?"
Soon Vinger will call on her 17 years in television and launch a media component, VING Vision, creating content that's in line with the brand, and down the line, she hopes to launch seasonal, limited-run infusions.
For now, you can find both a non-infused VING and the kale-infused vodka—bright, refreshing and only in need of a little soda water—behind the bars of Bao Dim Sum House, Sage Vegan Bistro and Beverly Hills' Freds in Barney's New York. Find it by the bottle for around $35 from K&L Wine Merchants, the Oaks Gourmet Market and at Eaven Liquor Store in San Jose. You can also get bottles shipped within California, as well as to Colorado, New Mexico, Nebraska, Missouri, Wisconsin and New Hampshire, for those living the L.A. lifestyle beyond state lines.
By Stephanie Breijo
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