Dan Aykroyd Celebrates The 10th Anniversary Of His Vodka Brand, Crystal Head, By Continuing To Push Boundaries

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Dan_06_┬®AmandaNikolicPhoto Credit: Amanda Nikolic

Ten years ago, with several successful careers under his belt—of which included Academy Award-nominated actor (for the 1989 drama “Driving Miss Daisy”) , comedian (he was an original member of the “Not Ready for Prime Time Players” on “Saturday Night Live” and actually conceived and starred in the original “Ghostbusters”), musician (his musical sketch with John Belushi spawned an actual band, The Blues Brothers), businessman (he co-founded the House of Blues and filmmaker—Dan Aykroyd decided he needed another new venture. In 2007, together with artist John Alexander, launched Crystal Head, a pure vodka free of additives, glycerol, citrus oil or sugars encased in a crystal skull (which was designed from an actual human skull), symbolizing life, power and enlightenment.

Now, to celebrate the brand’s 10th anniversary, Akyroyd and Alexander have launched its Series No.1, an evocative design derived from the artists expressive 1988 oil painting ‘Dancing on the Water Lilies of Life,’ which is currently on display in the Dallas Museum of Art. Housing the award-winning Original Crystal Head Vodka, each of the first, limited-edition’s 25,000 bottles are hand-decorated by one of three highly skilled craftsmen from Milan, Italy and then numbered to further emphasize the novelty. Less than 5,000 bottles will be available in the United States. We sat down with the original Blues Brother to discuss his brand’s evolution, how he—like his vodka—pushes boundaries and though business is now his focus, the one filmmaker that he would drop everything for.

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Crystal Head vodka

Photo Credit: Gabi Porter

How has the Crystal Head Vodka brand evolved over the course of 10 years?

It has taken us 10 years to put efficiency and cost control into our extremely complex glass manufacturing process. This knowledge has only come after a decade in the business with close to approximately 20 million bottles sold worldwide. Also on the marketing side we have evolved a better consumer identification which reveals to us a deep core of Crystal Head repeat drinkers. These are design and information technology conscious, college educated individuals and a growing constituency of female consumers who love our clean fluid. Zero additives, only 65 calories per shot. Smart people love the Head.

How does this limited-edition bottle by John Alexander show that evolution?

The John Alexander bottle exemplifies the true origin of our brand. The entire enterprise stems less from a desire to just start a business than to create an outstanding piece of mercantile design. It is the current iteration of our style following a continuous evolution in our presentation. We started with our original 750ml size, then developed our 1 liter and 3 liter mega-bottles, our shot glass, martini glass and shaker gift packs, our 50ml multi-colored minis and now the John Alexander Limited Edition with more to come.

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Crystal Head’s 10th anniversary bottle

Photo Credit: Gabi Porter

What does the concept of that original bottle mean to you? What does it say about your vodka?

The Crystal Head skull bottle concept derives from a spiritual place – in legend the Aztec, Mayan and Navajo tribes each possessed a crystal skull which they used primarily for scrying. This was to serve the well-being of their people. Power through sacred purity. So, with this bottle we could not put a fluid that had any additives which would prevent it from running pure through a spectrograph. Our beautiful bottles contain only glacial aquifer water and our proprietary mash. There are no foreign substances in the vodka and our bottle perfectly conveys our message of enlightened clean drinking.

Your vodka is said to push boundaries. How does this sentiment echo your own life?

Pushing boundaries entails risk. My career is full of risk laden pursuits and activities – performing on live TV, stunt driving in films and just getting into the spirits business in the first place.

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Artist John Alexander and Aykroyd

Photo Credit: Gabi Porter

Is art particularly important to you? Do you collect? What’s your most prized piece if so?

As with most people some art touches me more than others. I don’t love everything. My favorite piece that we own is a lovely Hudson River School painting by George Inness, “Moonlight Over Montclair.”

As someone who broke barriers on SNL, which comedians do you think are doing that successfully nowadays?

Will Ferrell is a brilliant and bold performer. Look no further than his drunken, streaking scene in the “Old School” movie. Russell Peters is also smart and hilarious.

Is acting still a focus for you? Why or why not? If so, what do you have in the pipeline?

Right now, my focus is on Crystal Head as we are in almost 70 countries. But if [Steven] Spielberg called and needed me I’d drop everything and go back to acting for him. I keep my hand in the entertainment world through concerts with the Blues Brothers – me and Jim Belushi aka Brother Zee – around North America. Also, my company is backing a spectacular new artist, vocalist, songwriter and guitarist whose voice about planetary exploitation is dynamic. Check out Vera Sola on her  website or follow Vera on Twitter.

HOW TO MAKE THE ARTIST SERIES NO. 1 COCKTAIL

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Photo Credit: Gabi Porter

Crystal Head Vodka
White Label Yerba Mate Soda
Lemon
Mint
Served in soda bottle with straw and mint garnish
(Created by Jade Sotack of Jupiter Disco in Brooklyn, NY)

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