The New Deal Manifesto

All we wanted when we started was to put a single, good bottle of vodka on the shelf of a liquor store in Portland and have someone buy it. And maybe, along the way, we could change humanity, or at least our corner of it, for the better.

Some companies have a mission statement. But we plan to change the world for the ages. To do so, we needed a New Deal Vodka Manifesto.


We looked at this world and thought, “We could just accept it for what it is.”

Or, we could create some space for what we think is important and bring some joy into the world. We explained to people about not being afraid: that things can suck, but that you can still find your good things and your joy.

There’s a dream in here. It’s hard to get past the cliches like, “It’s just crazy enough it might work.” That’s the thing about dreams: the ideas are so new that it’s hard for a person to swallow.

So, you fall back on what you think might be understood.

Do you know who makes your booze? Odds are, it came from hundreds, if not thousands of miles away. It was probably made in a vat the size of a city block and monitored by someone making minimum wage. The profits most likely went to a consortium of people more interested in diversifying their portfolios than sitting down for a sip with their customers.

The corporations got no idea who we are: there are some beautiful people here that look nothing like the people in the ad campaigns. We’re tired of giving money to some big corporation that sees us as just a number.

We want to know who we’re buying things from. And we want to know that our products are coming from companies right here in Portland—companies that manifest the feeling they get from being in this city.

We know we can make a local vodka that performs well on all accounts. We also know that we are not the only people who care where and who our favorite libations come from. We have always known that good people, treated fairly, make everything better—especially booze.

Why else would someone start a vodka company?

What else are you gonna do?


Back in 2002, things didn’t look good. The boom times were over. If the symbols of wealth had been cigars and martinis, they weren’t anymore. When things go bad, the rich dress down; everybody pulls back a little.

But we still like the good things.

The times were changing and we thought, “God, we need a vodka for those times, cause we’re not gonna be drinking just beer.”

There was a lot of struggle in the beginning. You would not believe the hoops you have to jump through to market alcohol in this town. We even had to stop talking to our friends—they thought we were full of it after a while.

Then came the day in June 2004. The powers that be decided to give us a license, and we started making vodka.

The first batch was filtered through an aquarium, labeled with 3×5 index cards. When we took it next door to the neighbors to ask them what they thought, they were like, “What the hell did you just do?”

It was a summer of experimentation. We developed a lot of vodkas. We tested them all. It was brutal … making, testing, drinking. But, the vodka got better. We drank more. Soon our friends even wanted to drink with us.

And it was fun to make vodka.

That’s when we thought, “Hey, we can actually do this!”


New Deal is about Hope.

We want to capture the spirit of progress and hope for prosperity. We want to go in a new direction where the individual matters.

We want to sell our product, and hopefully, prosper ourselves. That’s the essence of capitalism, but we wanna keep the ideal of general well-being alive.

We’re offering vodka that’s high quality, a good value, big bang for the buck. It represents the fruits of our hard labor and reflects our individual style.

We think you should treat the people around you well because we’re all in this together. And we know that you can get ahead without screwing everyone over.


In the beginning, we were looking for some way to get out of the rut, something to call our own. A million people were out there making a million products, but no one was making local vodka.


We had three goals when we started this thing. The first, to put one bottle of good vodka on a liquor store shelf and have one person buy it; the second, to be successful enough to bring the people we like along with us; and, lastly, we wanted to get to know the people who buy our product, one drink at a time.

We think of Ken Kesey’s bus. If you meet someone you like, offer them a ride and if they stay on the bus for a month or a year–so much the better.

Throw a good party and people will come–and we aren’t talking about a corporate, from-the-top-down kinda party. We want the real thing. We want to sell the real thing and know the real people.


Here at New Deal, we’re serious about not taking ourselves too seriously.

Favoring posters over magazine ads and one-on-one marketing over media campaigns, we want to wear our brand on our skin.

Our sales philosophy is to know your customer and drink with them whenever possible. We discovered that our customers are young and fresh. Our customers value individuality and quirkiness. Our customers work hard for their money and deserve to have a good time.

Tip-up your glasses – you earned it.


We mean it both for ourselves and for our customers.

We want to creatively build something people want to be a part of. Consistent with the local ethic, and consistent with our ethic of staying local, we want to keep trying new infusions and flavors made with natural ingredients, sourced locally because that’s just a better way to live.

If we could get everything we need from inner southeast Portland we probably would. We want to make a local product our customers will feel an attachment to … think Stumptown. Think Voodoo Donuts. Think about whatever local business inspires you to want to create something yourself.

When was the last time a fast-food chain made you want to open a burger joint?

We want to be liberal in the best sense of the word: open, inclusive, generous. Given the current political environment, that doesn’t always seem easy. But living in the 21st-century version of the Red Scare political blackout makes us want to turn on the disco lights and party on the roof.

Hell, we think everyone should be up here partying with us.

Looks like we’re gonna need a bigger tent!

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