Booze | August 19, 2021 5:59 am

Review: Harridan Is the Rare Vodka That Touts Itself as Innovative … And Then Proves It

Besides unique messaging, this is vodka with real character and (surprise) flavor

Harridan vodka on a table with various books and artwork — the vodka recently launched with a unique messaging (and real character)
Can a vodka have depth and character? That's what Harridan is attempting.

What we’re drinking: Harridan Vodka, an overproofed corn vodka that was created and launched during the early days of COVID-19.

Where it’s from: The NY-based Harridan is a female-founded and owned spirit, crafted in collaboration with Myer Farm, one of the oldest and largest currently operating organic farms in the Northeast.

Why we’re drinking this: Over the last year, I’ve become infatuated with corn-based products — see the cacahuazintle corn-based Abasolo whiskey and its liqueur spinoff Nixta — as well as vodkas that actually produce something more than a buzz, like Belvedere’s Single Estate Rye vodka, which shows off terroir in an interesting way.

So I was drawn to Harridan as a potential new avenue for vodkas. And the female empowerment message put forth by founder Bridgette Taylor — who conceived of the brand during the quarantine period of COVID while finishing Harvard Business School — was refreshing. 

“During that first COVID time I got interested in mixology,” she tells us. “And I noticed all these upstarts in whiskey, gin and tequila, but there wasn’t any innovation in vodka, or at least nothing that resonated with me.”

Her quest to both start a business and find a unique vodka eventually led her to NY’s Myer Farm, where Taylor — wowed by the farm’s wheat vodka — helped put together a corn-based take. She decided on Harridan as a name, cheekily referencing the word’s “bossy, belligerent old woman” definition to create something empowering.

At first, the messaging fell flat.

“There was pushback — the liquor store owners didn’t believe a market existed for a feminist vodka brand that celebrated defiant women,” says Taylor. “They said they didn’t see the message resonating. One owner even told me that women don’t buy their own alcohol. It gaslights you in a way.” 

Thankfully, Taylor persevered. But did she accomplish her vodka goals? Let’s have a sip.

How it tastes

First, by coming in at 88 proof, Harridan does possess real character. It’s also only triple distilled, according to Taylor, to give the vodka more of a presence beyond alcohol burn.  

It’s very soft on the nose and not medicinal at all. On the palate, the corn shines — as in, I’d be hesitant at first to suggest this was a vodka. There’s a creamy mouthfeel and just a hint of pepper at the end.

I’d honestly drink this on the rocks with a lemon twist (Taylor’s preferred way). The inherent sweetness and texture here also make it excellent for cocktails — it worked nicely as a tequila substitute in a few drinks I tried. 

A cocktail made with Harridan vodka
Harridan actually works as a good substitute for tequila in some cocktails
Kirk Miller

Fun fact: The bottle (handblown in Mexico) and the black wax seal are just some of the elements that helped Harridan win a Double Gold Medal at the 2021 San Francisco World Spirits Competition in the Packaging Design Category.

Where to buy it: Harridan is available for $60 in a few northeast states, but your best best is to buy it directly here.