F.X. Matt Brewery Introducing New Drink to Central New York and Beyond
The story of how the Finnish Long Drink came to be--and how it came to Utica--is a...LONG one.
The saga involves some quick thinking, the Summer Olympic Games, an actor, and a current NHL goaltender. Details in a moment. As for the beverage itself, the Finnish Long Drink (imagine a Fresca with 5.5% alcohol) is a mix of gin and grapefruit soda. Long story short: Utica’s F.X. Matt Brewing Company (home of Utica Club and Saranac products) now has a deal to produce and market the product in the U.S.
Here's the history: Helsinki, Finland hosted the Summer Olympics in 1952, and key members of the Finnish government and the organizing committee were concerned that they might run out of alcoholic beverages to appease the crowds. So, someone came up with the notion of making a drink using gin as a base because of its fairly quick distilling process.
Grapefruit's citrus flavor seemed like a logical pairing. the mixture became a big hit and has been in heavy demand in Finland ever since.
Even though the Finnish name for the concoction is Lonkero, the goal was to make it more internationally appealing for the Oympic Games, so the English translation--Long Drink--was widely adopted.
Over time, a few Fins and one American decided to introduce the import to the U.S. They formed an alliance and were later joined as stakeholders by the actor Miles Teller (from TV's Divergent series), and by Tuukka Rask, the Finnish-born goaltender for the NHL's Boston Bruins.
The next step was finding a place that could make The Finnish Long Drink with quality and quantity. The F.X. Matt Brewing Company, which was already diversifying, became that partner.
The only hitch was the Utica brewery had to acquire something it had never needed before--a distilling license to make the key alcoholic component. You'll find The Finnish Long Drink in bars, restaurants and liquor stores, but not in grocery or convenience stores.