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Weekend Sip: An ocean-flavored martini? A Hawaiian brand offers vodka made from sea water

The bottle

Ocean Organic Vodka, $29.99

The back story

With the arrival of fall, beach season may have come to an end for many of us. But here’s a thought: If you’re not making your way to the ocean, you can take a sip of it — in vodka form.

The folks behind Ocean Organic Vodka have created a spirit that uses actual ocean water — in this case from the mineral-rich waters surrounding Hawaii. The brand is the brainchild of Maui-born Shay Smith, who says he wanted to create a product that spoke to the ‘spirit’ of the state but with “some differentiating factor.” He learned about a facility that pipes in ocean water and then employs a reverse osmosis process to desalinate it (the minerals — some 80 of them — are added back in). “It’s very neutral, very clean water,” Smith says.

The water can be used in a variety of ways, Smith notes, who cites algae farming as one example. But Smith’s idea was to tap it — pun intended — for vodka. Adding to the brand’s unique positioning is the bottle, which is shaped like a globe. (There’s a more traditional bottle that’s sold to bars and restaurants.)

Smith says the brand is growing at a solid 10% to 20% annual pace since its founding more than a decade ago. Currently, it produces more than 60,000 cases of the vodka per year, but Smith notes it’s geared to take things to the next level and produce up to 500,000 cases.

What we think about it

If you’re expecting a mouthful of briny flavor with each sip of Ocean vodka, you may be in for a disappointment. As already mentioned, the water that goes into the spirit is desalinated, so you don’t quite have that taste of the ocean. Still, it’s a solid vodka for the money with a full mouthfeel and notes both creamy and slightly peppery. And it does make for a great conversation starter at a cocktail party.  

How to enjoy it

Smith suggests having Ocean on the rocks or in a martini. He also says it works well with soda water and a squeeze of lime.

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