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Calling The Ketel WHACK, or: The Worst Title Of Any Post Ever (It Is About Vodka)

You know, my fellow lady-people, it has been a bit stressful around the old Tiger Beatdown lately. The post window: it glowers at me. It is like, WHO WILL YOU PISS OFF NEXT, LADY???? And I am like, “well, no-one, unless they learn about my vicious dog-on-baby-fighting ring.” Oh, no! Wait! I meant, “my extensive collection of pornography!” Oh, CRAP! What I meant was, “my extensive collection of videotapes featuring dogs fighting babies!”

Ugh. Anyway, have you seen these Ketel One ads? They’re pretty annoying!

Ha ha, yes. A TIME WHEN MEN WERE MEN. And not ladies! When they did not drink their vodka out of “delicately painted [like a lady would paint them] pink [like a lady would enjoy] * perfume [like a lady would wear] bottles.” Ha ha, yes, the epidemic of vodka served in “painted perfume bottles” is quite disastrous for femininity. And drinking! The atomizer: it doesn’t dispense much booze per squirt!

Here is also a fun thing to notice: the THERE WAS A TIME thing. Remember when men were men? Real live masculine manly men of manhood and manliness? Boy, doesn’t it suck that men aren’t men any more, and they have to be less manly and manful in their day-to-day interactions? It’s almost as if many men fetishize a foregone time when male privilege was entirely unhampered and ran rampant (LIKE GODZILLA) through the streets and no-one ever questioned it and the performance of traditional highly privileged masculinity was never challenged! I wonder what could have brought this glorious time to an end?

Oh, shit, yeah. Right. Anyway, this beautiful time of untrammeled, pre-feminist, pre-ladyfied manhood existed once. And it can exist AGAIN! If – and only if – you purchase and consume Ketel One vodka! Which is a colorless and mostly tasteless liquid that can be mixed with any drink, up to and including the uber-ladyfying Cosmo. Or APPLE MARTINI.

Ha ha, yeah, it’s really silly to think that a drink can be gendered, right? Or that it can gender you. In fact, I’m going to drink some Ketel One vodka right now, just to prove you a point: that it does not in fact affect my gender presentation whatsoever. Here I am, prior to drinking Ketel One:

Hmmm… vodka-y, drunk-inducing, no feelings of altered gender. Let’s take an “after” pic:

OH HOLY CRAP. How did this even happen?!? I take it back, you guys: Ketel One is definitely the manliest vodka that ever manned a man up to manliness. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to book a ticket to Hawai’i.

* UPDATE: The ad totally doesn’t actually say “pink,” by the way! I’ve re-watched it several times to verify this. The thing is, I’ve seen it many a time, and I always, always, always hear the word “pink” in there. There’s a weird pause between “painted [like a lady]” and “perfume [which is a lady thing].” So I just HEARD THE WORD AND/OR COLOR “PINK” USED AS A NEGATIVE in that space. This ad is so manly it can actually project sexist concepts right into your brain! Beware!


  1. smadin wrote:

    Vodka in painted perfume bottles? I don't even know what they're talking about. Is that a thing now, and I just missed it? Is that how the cool kids like their vodka these days? I'm totally confused by that.

    (Amusingly, in my experience vodka has long been considered perhaps the least manly of the major spirits, precisely because it has no flavor of its own: whiskey, now that's manly! Also, delicious.)

    Thursday, June 18, 2009 at 8:52 pm | Permalink
  2. X. Trapnel wrote:

    The 'perfume bottle' bit confused me. Is that supposed to reference a sort of glass? A cocktail shaker? A competing brand of vodka? Only the last seems to have any sort of real-world referent (though even here, I can't think of a brand that fits the description offhand) … but I would think that drinking straight from the bottle would be pretty manly, no?

    I'm puzzled.

    Thursday, June 18, 2009 at 8:54 pm | Permalink
  3. norabombay wrote:

    I think i need to question my sexuality now. And also my vodka consumption.

    Thursday, June 18, 2009 at 9:01 pm | Permalink
  4. C. L. Minou wrote:

    I know a guy who likes Ketel, but only in vodka gimlets. And he crossdresses. Sometimes when he's drinking Ketel One! THAT'S RIGHT KETEL ONE WILL NOT KEEP YOU FROM DRESSING LIKE A WOMAN!! EVEN IF YOU ARE NORMALLY KINDA DUDISH!!1!1!!

    I mean, "when style was substance and men were men" sounds like the flyer for a drag show.

    Thursday, June 18, 2009 at 9:08 pm | Permalink
  5. mir wrote:

    Hulu was running that ad continuously for a while. I'd mute it and open a new tab because those dudes remind of nothing so much as some kind of secret occult we-rule-the-world-from-our-cave man-society. They're six stories underground! You know the walls are dank with the blood of innocents and there are torture chambers just offscreen.

    Thursday, June 18, 2009 at 9:21 pm | Permalink
  6. oriniwen wrote:

    I laughed so hard at those pictures I was sure someone was going to call security to come up to my hotel room and tell me to Simmer Down Already.

    Sady, you are the very best thing in the intertubes, and that's saying a lot, coming from me. Keep up the amazing Beatdown work!

    Thursday, June 18, 2009 at 9:41 pm | Permalink
  7. carleighsoup wrote:

    Well, the rapist who raped me drank Ketel One vodka as his pre-raping beverage of choice, so I can already attest to its nostalgia for the good ol' days when men were MEN and rape was awesome. Um. 2005.

    Also, Sady, you're fucking hilarious, and you caused me to go from pissed off to chuckly, so maybe that cancels out a random pissed off-erson somewhere!

    Thursday, June 18, 2009 at 10:41 pm | Permalink
  8. Scott wrote:

    I will go out on a limb and assume they are targeting the other uber-pricey vodka brands that generally come in painted bottles: Chopin, Belvedere and Grey Goose.

    I generally like Ketel One, though to be fair, I mix it into the manliest of drinks: The Screwdriver. (Hey, it's a tool! Like men use!)

    But damn, Sady, I've been drinking it for years and I can't grow a 'stache like that. Jealous.

    Thursday, June 18, 2009 at 10:44 pm | Permalink
  9. theradicalnotion wrote:

    THANK YOU. I saw this commercial this evening and I was just gaping at the telly. Like, WTF?

    It honesetly spoke to me about the fragility of the construct of masculinity – in order to be a "real man", one needs to regress to a time when men could do anything they wanted and were respected, dammit! And admired. And were awesome. Not like now, when they're just people. But when you drink KETEL ONE, you can forget all that and pretend the world worships at your feet.

    Thursday, June 18, 2009 at 11:40 pm | Permalink
  10. youllnevergetrich wrote:

    God, Anglo-American misogynists are so straight-laced. Look at them, all wearing the same clothes, drinking the same colourless drink… They need a bit of transcontinental misogyny. Lively yourselves up lads!

    Friday, June 19, 2009 at 12:41 am | Permalink
  11. youllnevergetrich wrote:

    Also, have you noticed the lovely homoerotic frisson between the nervy shaven-headed youth and the macho dad guy?

    Friday, June 19, 2009 at 12:55 am | Permalink
  12. slave2tehtink wrote:

    Seriously, what is up with painted perfume bottles?

    Also I just had to listen to this "Once we were MEN! Manly men! Who did Manly things, in a Manly kind of way!" crap from a guy I work with yesterday. The bane of my existence is that I am not allowed to poke anyone's eyes out at work with a plastic knife.

    Friday, June 19, 2009 at 1:57 am | Permalink
  13. Broggly wrote:

    Maybe they mean "alcopops" containing vodka, which are colourful, served in small bottles, and seen as very girly.

    Friday, June 19, 2009 at 5:00 am | Permalink
  14. Spatula wrote:

    "When style was substance"? That's not manly!!! Everyone knows style is a chick thing! Get your requirements right, man people.

    Friday, June 19, 2009 at 8:11 am | Permalink
  15. Sady wrote:

    @Ms. Cat Minou: I think you need to write into Ketel One and explain to them the flaws of their marketing campaign. KETEL ONE: THE VODKA THAT WILL LEAVE YOU WITH BASICALLY THE SAME GENDER PRESENTATION AND SEXUALITY AS BEFORE, ONLY YOU WILL HAVE ALL OF THAT WHILE DRUNKER.

    P.S.: Vodka gimlets are the besssssssssst. I like gin gimlets too! But I was making vodka gimlets for my lady friend yesterday while we were at my house eating Chinese food and working and playing Rock Band (IMPORTANT RELEVANT INFORMATION HERE) and you can do the sugar rims on them, and THAT, my friend, is some pretty definitively lady-gendered vodka. Also,

    @smadin: Right? It's weird how drinking is actually this really gendered activity. Like, I know some folks who've been bartenders, and they, too, have pointed out to me that vodka is considered a lady drink and whiskey, in all its many permutations, is more for dudes. (Also: beer, duh.) They also have stories about dudes who would come into bars and order Cosmos, but IN BUCKETS rather than martini glasses, so that it didn't LOOK like a Cosmo and thereby call their gender or sexuality into question. FUCKING DRINK WHAT YOU WANT TO DRINK, PEOPLE. I like me some bourbon. You can like yourself some Cosmos. Even if Carrie Bradshaw likes them too.

    @youllnevergetrich: AAAAAIIIIIIIEEEEE!!! THE ORANGINA ADS! Thanks for subjecting me to that terror unexpectedly. Damn Orangina-stealing octopus-lap-dance-having sexy bears. But not, you know, actual sexy bears. Just LITERAL ANIMAL BEARS, that get sexy.

    Friday, June 19, 2009 at 9:29 am | Permalink
  16. smadin wrote:

    Yeah, and a Cosmopolitan is a perfectly respectable drink (not my favorite, but perfectly respectable) — possibly my favorite thing about it is that, having no gin in it, it doesn't call itself a martini 🙂

    (I assume that the gendering of alcohol derives from notions of, say, a century or two ago that teh laydeez' fragile constitutions simply couldn't handle such robust spirits as the manly whiskey, gin and brandy families. Vodka, without all those difficult and complex flavors, that was surely more their speed! At what point in this process they failed to twig to the whole "uh, 40% ethanol is pretty much 40% ethanol…" thing, I don't quite understand.)

    Friday, June 19, 2009 at 10:11 am | Permalink
  17. Foxessa wrote:

    My goodness.

    I've always ordered my vodka martinis to be made with Ketle. Yet, here I am, still with breasts and the vagina.

    False advertising once again!

    Love, C.

    Friday, June 19, 2009 at 10:28 am | Permalink
  18. Margaret wrote:

    Well I've always liked 'umbrella' drinks but no man I've ever been out on the town with ordered one, so while I agree drinks don't come in blue and pink, there may be preferences the marketeers hone in on?

    Friday, June 19, 2009 at 11:26 am | Permalink
  19. Regina wrote:

    I think the comment about painted perfume bottles might be Ketel's way of getting the audience to look at their bottles in a different way. I mean, look at this thing: They might as well put a sticker on it that says "Hide me in a brown paper bag!" That's the kind of bottle I would expect to see on a washed-up old sports writer's desk. If I was the ad exec given that account, I'd be all pissy and randomly misogynist too.

    Friday, June 19, 2009 at 11:44 am | Permalink
  20. Karin wrote:

    After reading your hilarious posts, I have the song from the movie "Robin Hood: Men in Tights" stuck in my head:

    "We're men (manly men!)
    We're men in tight, TIGHT tights!" LOL

    Friday, June 19, 2009 at 11:46 am | Permalink
  21. snobographer wrote:


    See now I wish I worked in advertising so I could made a retaliatory ad with something very much like that as the tagline. And the ad would feature a bunch of characters of a rainbow of presentations and it'd be all, "if you're not one of those backwards idiots who thinks being born with a penis is a spectacular accomplishment, drink this other vodka! The one in the painted bottle!"

    By the way, are adhesive labels a new requirement of masculinity now? It never stops, does it.

    Friday, June 19, 2009 at 1:09 pm | Permalink
  22. emandink wrote:

    whiskey, now that's manly! Also, delicious.

    Ah, yes. Whiskey – the man's pour, a real adult drink.*

    *All things that have been said to my Scotch-on-the-rocks drinking self by men drinking white wine.

    Friday, June 19, 2009 at 1:16 pm | Permalink
  23. minniethemoocha wrote:

    I think that the point of vodka cocktails was that they weren't supposed to taste like anything; therefore making it easier to get ladies drunker than they would otherwise get. Grain alcohol in the punch basically serves the same purpose.

    This is all made ridiculous by the fact that vodka *does* taste like something, just not always a very nuanced something in most people's opinions.

    Why are the men in the ad drinking vodka on the rocks? Nobody does that! Chilled shots, neat, OK, but WTF with the rocks?

    Friday, June 19, 2009 at 1:22 pm | Permalink
  24. Space Cowboy wrote:

    If you don't already have a TB hall of fame, I suggest you start one and throw this post into slot number 1. 🙂

    Friday, June 19, 2009 at 2:05 pm | Permalink
  25. Sady wrote:

    @Margaret, @Regina: At this point, I'm thinking that the marketers know vodka is considered "girly" and are trying to rebrand it as a MAN'S DRINK. You know, on the theory that girls' money… is worth less? Or that girls will just keep drinking it anyway? I have no idea.

    @minniethemoocha: Well, yeah. Someone pointed out to me, after reading this, that scotch on the rocks, which is a "boy" drink, has LESS actual alcohol in it than a vodka martini, which is "girly" at this point (?) and that therefore, if a dude and a girl are drinking together and he has 3 drinks (scotch) and she's had 3 drinks (vodka?) she's actually liable to be more drunk than he is, at the end of the night. A lot of girls' drinks have a LOT of alcohol in them. Like, margaritas are considered girly, too. I consider them "the Devil, unless I make them for myself." But, you know, differences of opinion. Speaking of which,

    @smadin: The "-tini" suffix has GOT TO STOP. Like, I was at a bar, and I saw this lady order a "crantini." And the bartender was like, "huh?" And, after much explaining, what she turned out to be ordering was vodka and cranberry, in a martini glass, with no ice or lime. NOT EVERYTHING IS A -TINI OF SOME SORT, PEOPLE. Now, I'm off to make myself a gimletini. Or perhaps just grab some beertinis from the grocery store.

    Friday, June 19, 2009 at 4:34 pm | Permalink
  26. Sady wrote:

    @carleighsoup: Oh, lady. I'm sorry. And, you know, thank you.

    Friday, June 19, 2009 at 4:37 pm | Permalink
  27. smadin wrote:

    minniethemoocha raises an excellent point. Rocks? Seriously? Why are you telling your customers to drink your product wrong, Ketel One?

    (Also, yeah — a cosmo's as strong a drink as a martini, and properly made either one's about twice the strength of most non-martini-style cocktails, which is why in bartending class they told us to always offer the customer a glass of water along with their martini. So strength isn't what makes it girly, and I don't think presence of fruit is either, as I'm pretty sure the Old Fashioned is still considered a manly drink.)

    Friday, June 19, 2009 at 4:54 pm | Permalink
  28. Brigid Keely wrote:

    I don't know if you read Achewood ( but one of the characters drinks Ketel One. And drives an Escalade. And is kind of a douche bag.

    Saturday, June 20, 2009 at 1:12 am | Permalink
  29. Anonymous wrote:

    Dude, my mom totally used to have the hots for your post-Ketel-One-drinking self.


    Saturday, June 20, 2009 at 8:31 am | Permalink
  30. FlipYrWhig wrote:

    Wait — vodka is girly? And this is common knowledge to the point where there needs to be counterprogramming via advertising? I guess growing up in a no-alcohol house means being blissfully unaware of _some_ stoopid stereotypes.

    Saturday, June 20, 2009 at 1:36 pm | Permalink
  31. wildlyparenthetical wrote:

    Sorry it's been stressful, Lady Sady! You do good work. Even when you're apparently doing light and fluffy, you do razor-sharp witty goodness. [hands Sady margarita]. Go you, you good thing you.

    Monday, June 22, 2009 at 4:29 am | Permalink
  32. Armed and Hammered wrote:

    1) Magnum was a beer drinker, anyway. Besides, I've known men that could beat me to jelly in under ten seconds that LOOOOVE girly drinks that come out of slushie machines. These men are shining examples of "substance over style."

    2) I don't remember Clint Eastwood ever walking into a saloon and growling "vodka."

    3) Men generally don't associate with the preening metrosexual dandies featured in this ad. They will, however, sit at a poker table and relieve them of their rent money.

    Thursday, June 25, 2009 at 7:56 am | Permalink
  33. Amanda wrote:

    Drinking out of pink perfume bottles will in a short time become the ironic hipster way to drink vodka.

    Monday, July 13, 2009 at 10:52 am | Permalink