Vodka is tasteless (barring flavored vodkas) and can be made from any number of things. Milk, carrots, quinoa — wherever there are fresh ingredients, there are people making vodka from those fresh ingredients. However, Misadventure and Company out of San Diego, California is looking past fresh and straight to food waste.
Misadventure Vodka, currently the Misadventure & Co distillery’s lone product, is described by the company as “vodka made from unsold baked goods.” “When we first came up with the idea, no one thought it was a good one,” distillery co-owner Sam Chereskin told NBC 7 San Diego. His company sources its fermentables from Jacobs and Cushman San Diego, a food bank, by grabbing leftovers that weren’t even able to be given away to the needy. It ends up being over a thousand pounds of bread products a week. “We get Twinkies, Ho Hos, French baguettes, crullers, you name it. The whole bakery aisle goes into our vodka,” explained Whitney Rigali, the other co-owner. “Essentially, all these baked goods have starches and sugars inside them, which are the building blocks to making any type of alcohol.”
Because vodka is just sugar from starch that gets fermented and distilled, the process with bread is still relatively straightforward, although the other co-owner, Sam Chereskin, says that when they first hatched the idea, “no one thought it was a good one.” All of the products are combined into what NBC describes as “a giant, warm blender.” The blended bread gets mashed into a “sweet porridge” of a wort, then they add yeast, distill the fermented product down into alcohol, and are left with strong liquor that’s essentially juice from a bunch of stale pastries and nuclear holocaust–proof Ho Hos.
According to the USDA, more than $16 billion worth of food is wasted in the U.S. every year. The National Resource Defense Council claims 40 percent of the food made in this country is never eaten.
Misadventure believes they are one of the first vodkas produce in this fashion. Though making alcoholic beverages from food waste certainly isn’t new: Stone Brewing is making a sustainable beer in San Diego from recycled sewage water.