Nowadays, you can't open your front door in a trendy urban neighborhood without hitting someone vomiting vodka cocktails on your front stoop. Vodka has become the stuff boozy dreams are made of- the fuel for Jersey Shore fist pumping, the gasoline upon which hundreds of disproportionately teary boyfriend/girlfriend arguments run, a clear solution to the problem of sobriety. Our nation's favorite white liquor has become ubiquitous, but it hasn't always been that way.
A piece in this week's Weekly Standard outlines the history of vodka marketing and our evolving consumption of the drink. According to the piece, the appeal of vodka is its relative odorless, flavorless nature; "It is the ideal intoxicant for the drinker who wants no reminder of how hurt Mother would be if she knew what he was doing." (Although, I'd beg to differ about that; as anyone who has ever accidentally taken a giant swig of what they thought was water but was actually vodka and had a pretty vomitty time of it can attest, vodka definitely has a flavor. And an odor.)
The drink can trace most of its popularity to successful advertising- from its prominent placement in Dr. No as James Bond's drink of choice (ruffling some alcohol snobs' feathers, as a "shaken, not stirred" vodka martini is generally thought to be the inferior vodka martini incarnation, and vodka martinis were once thought of as an abomination) to the still-ongoing Absolut ___ campaign.
The article further points out that in spite of what zillions of vodka-bottle-as-penis ads would have you believe, there really isn't much difference between different types of vodka. That hasn't prevented distilleries from spending several small countries' GDP on convincing you otherwise, and it's working, which is further encouraging companies to get more and more outrageous with their attempts to get your attention.