Erik Lacitis

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June, 1952: The Northern Lights Dining Room, 1125 3rd Avenue.
Seattle Municipal Archives Photograph Collection  
Top 10 best-selling hard liquors in Seattle

Who's drinking all those Jagermeisters?

by Erik Lacitis

I asked the Washington State Liquor Control Board what were the Top 10 best-selling hard liquors in Seatte in 2009.

Then I asked Zach Peterson, owner of the venerable University District joint Dante's for his take on the list. The place has been in the family since 1966, when Zach's dad, Larry Peterson, bought the tavern with a former UW fraternity brother. More on Dante's here.

About 24 percent of the state's liquor sales are commercial, meaning bars and restaurants, with the rest to individuals. That helps explain why McCormick Vodka is the top-selling liquor in Seattle. It's the well drink at a lot of bars.

As for Jagermeister being No. 2, well, been around college-age types lately?

Here is the list, along with Peterson's analysis.

1) McCormick Vodka, 13,668 cases sold.
McCormick Vodka is our well at Dante's. As you know, vodka has been the number one spirit category in the U.S. for a long time. McCormick is one of the most "affordable." The college kids mostly drink vodka/Red Bull, either mixed or drop the shot glass of vodka into a pint glass or Red Bull (or some other energy drink). This gives them both the courage, and the energy to mix with the opposite sex. We also sell a lot of Jello shots made with vodka, instead of water. Because vodka is clear, and relatively tasteless, it works well in many mixed drinks, like kamikaze's, vodka cranberry, vodka sour etc. Supposedly it also leaves you with less of a hangover.

2) Jagermeister, 9,166 cases sold.    
Jagermeister, on the other hand, leaves you with a wicked hangover. The real reason Jagermeister is still so popular is pure marketing. For over 15 years now, Jagermeister has been the cult liquor of every college campus. The "Jagerettes" are a constant presence at every popular bar, giving out hats, t-shirts and other favors. Most bars, and many fraternity houses, have a"jagerator" which pours Jagermeister out of a tap at a temperature that is "colder then ice." Just like above, with the vodka/Red Bull, Jagermeister's herbal magic seems to keep your body going long after you should be asleep in bed.

3) Jack Daniel's Black Label Tennessee Whiskey, 9,135 cases sold.
Jack Daniel's is very drinkable. In fact, it's delicious. It's also affordable. I think it also has a mystique of manliness. It's what the mountain man drinks out of his deerskin flask. Jack is best on the rocks with a splash of water.

4) Seagram's Crown Royal, 8,167 cases sold.
Crown is even more drinkable, but a slight step up in price and sophistication. Most people drink shots of Crown, but also on the rocks, or Crown and Coke.

5) Grey Goose Imported Vodka, 7,988 cases sold. 
"Blame it on the Goose." This premium vodka was made popular by hip-hop artists, and other pop culture figures. Again, supposedly vodka produces a milder hangover. This reasoning continues with the more times a vodka is filtered, the more impurities are removed, resulting in less hangover. They were also one of the first to put their product in a really tall skinny bottle, so that it could stand head and shoulders above the rest.

6) Smirnoff Vodka, 7,645 cases sold.
Smirnoff vodka is just a small step up from McCormick vodka, and popular for all the same reasons. Its for those who hesitate to buy the cheapest vodka (mostly for fear of hangovers).

7) Maker's Mark bourbon, 6,829 cases sold.
Maker's is very similar to Jack, and some say better. It has an interesting bottle, a smooth finish, and a loyal following.

8) Absolut Vodka, 6,446 cases sold.
Absolut is just another step up from Smirnoff, and is marketed very aggressively. It comes in every flavor you can imagine (Absolut Mandrin, for touchdowns, is the most popular), and they do constant promotions.

9) Jameson Irish Whiskey,  6,394 cases sold. 
Jameson is in the Top ten because the Irish drink a lot, and it's contagious. When there out drinkin', everyone likes to be a little Irish. Plus, it's not bad whiskey.

10) Ketel One Dutch Vodka, 5,835 cases sold.
Ketel One is yet another step up from Absolut, and almost on par with Grey Goose (only built less on marketing, and more on purity).
It's interesting that vodka makes up half of the Top 10, and the other half are whiskey (except, of course, the required Jagermeister). No tequila has broken into the Top 10; I would think that Patron must be pretty close. Also, Bacardi rum should be right up there. 

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