A vodka from the newly formed New Orleans distillery Atelier Vie (www.ateliervie.com) is making its way into stores and bars, and it really packs a wallop. It's called Buck 25, a reference to its 125 proof (or 62.5 percent alcohol), much stronger than more common 80 proof Absolut or Stoli products.
Buck 25's distiller says this high-proof vodka wasn't designed simply to make stronger drinks, but rather to provide a "secret weapon" for craft cocktail enthusiasts.
"The appeal is you only need a smaller pour," says distillery founder Jed Haas. "You can add more flavor and more ingredients to the glass and have the same alcohol content."
Haas and his partners produce Buck 25 at ArtEgg Studios, a reclaimed industrial space in Mid-City. The vodka is marketed as "professional infusion grade," and Haas says this means it's aimed at bartenders and others who want to make their own flavor-infused vodkas.
"The higher alcohol content means the flavor gets extracted a lot faster and is more intense," he says.
One early adopter of Buck 25 has already come up with a highly personalized infusion. Pauline Patterson, proprietor of Finn McCool's Irish Pub (3701 Banks St., 504-486-9080; www.finnmccools.com), infused a bottle of Buck 25 with Juicy Fruit gum. New Orleans Saints fans may recall that a ready stock of Juicy Fruit has been a game day superstition for head coach Sean Payton. The suspended coach scheduled an event benefiting his Payton's Play It Forward Foundation during the Oct. 21 Saints versus Buccaneers game at Manning's. People contributing $1,000 to his charity joined him there for the game, and Patterson planned to present her Juicy Fruit Buck 25 to the coach as a symbol of support.
What's next for Atelier Vie? The distiller plans a hibiscus-flavored absinthe called Toulouse Red, which is now awaiting government approvals.