Mar 03, 2009, 07:24AM

Celebrity Booze

In the never-ending quest to get booze in the bellies of customers, breweries and wineries are looking more and more to celebrities.

First, we have this dust up across the way in Seattle:

"Electric Hendrix" vodka, sold at Washington State liquor stores, may soon be a collector's item. Seattle's Experience Hendrix and Authentic Hendrix, owners of Jimi Hendrix's music, trademarks and licensing rights, won a legal victory in their trademark infringement case against local businessman Craig Dieffenbach and Electric Hendrix Spirits, which created an "Electric Hendrix" brand of vodka. In a lawsuit filed in 2007, Experience Hendrix and Authentic Hendrix charged that Dieffenbach and his companies had infringed on Hendrix trademarks in an unauthorized promotion of the vodka.

This is unfortunate in the sense that the lawsuit itself sounds pretty catty as well as the fact that the notion of a Hendrix-inspired liquor is rather unsettling, given the man's untimely demise.

On, I guess, the finer side of the spectrum, we come to wines (though there is the ridiculous reality of Mike Ditka's own wine).

One of contemporary art's most lucrative names, Lucien Freud, is set to design a label for Château Mouton Rothschild—which is, FYI, an enormously expensive wine, one you will never find in plastic saddlebag:

The commission, for Mouton's 2006 vintage, was announced yesterday at the opening of an exhibition of previous labels at the Wolfsonian-Florida International University, on view through March 8. Château Mouton Rothschild has featured an original artwork every year since 1945; previous artists include Miro, Chagall, Braque, Picasso, Dali, Warhol, Bacon, Haring, and Balthus.

Freud's label features a simple line drawing of a potted palm and a zebra's head.

The artists receive no payment for their contribution other than cases of the Bordeaux-region wine.

What a, uh, lovely story of pro bono art. But just for kicks, check out the price list for that 2006 vintage.

Although not involving a celebrity, Sierra Nevada's recent stunt deserves some attention:

Sierra Nevada, brewer of delicious beers, has purchased a MicroFueler, a contraption that produces ethanol from water, sugar and yeast. Yeast also happens to be a major byproduct of beer fermentation, allowing them to make fuel out of beer leftovers.

I, and probably the bulk of lush Hollywood, support this initiative. But while the idea is exciting in general, I'd keep a close eye out for some idiot 17-year-old getting his stomach vacuumed because he figured the gas pump with a beer label was the greatest thing ever since Maxim.


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