Arby's French Fry Vodka Is Disgustingly Brilliant Promotional Marketing
Have you ever been drinking a cosmopolitan and thought to yourself, "This is pretty good, but it'd be a lot better if it tasted more like Arby's spicy curly fries"? The answer is definitely "no," but regardless, that's now a thing you can have thanks to Arby's french fry vodka.
Yes, after a week of teasing it on social media, the fast food brand really went and launched not one but two french fry vodkas in Curly Fry and Crinkle Fry flavors. The bottles, decked out in Arby's branding, went on sale Thursday, Nov. 18 at arbysvodka.com in "extremely limited" quantities at $59.99 a bottle. Both sold out almost immediately.
“Though we’ve mastered the art of drive-thru fries, we wanted to take it one step further by making them 80-proof,” Patrick Schwing, chief marketing officer of Arby’s, said in a press release. “Being a potato-based liquor, this limited edition vodka is infused with Crinkle and Curly Fry flavor so Arby’s fans who are of legal drinking age can responsibly enjoy our menu from bag to bottle.”
If that doesn't make you thirsty, how 'bout the descriptions for each flavor?
Here's the Curly Fry:
A tribute to the mastery of crisp, spiced, curled potato. With hints of cayenne and paprika, this innovative vodka preserves the distinctive and authentic tasting notes of the traditional Arby’s Curly Fry.
And the Crinkle Fry:
Honoring the rich tradition of salted potato shapes, this premium vodka features a blend of fine kosher salt and sugar—a subtle homage to the simple perfection of Arby’s crisp and golden Crinkle Fries.
Now, this feels like a real "your scientists were so preoccupied with whether they could, they didn't stop to think if they should" situation, but it's actually pretty brilliant.
Many vodkas are made using potatoes anyway, so french fry vodka isn't a huge stretch. And even if the spicy fry flavor sounds particularly gross, it's less so when you consider its application in a traditionally spicy beverage like a Bloody Mary. (Arby's actually included a Bloody Mary recipe on the vodka website.) And both flavors were produced by Tattersall Distilling Company, a Minneapolis craft distillery with an airtight reputation, so they're certainly legit.
But, more than that, this is exactly the kind of promotional product that gets people talking and builds online buzz. Arby's heavily promoted the vodka on social media in the lead-up to the launch. And it partnered with celebrity chef Justin Sutherland, who created drink recipes (infused with other Arby's ingredients, of course) and appeared in recipe videos on his own and Arby's social feeds.
Partly aided by some serious "this can't be real" viral energy, the launch got picked up in major media publications including USA Today, Yahoo Finance, Fox Business and The New York Post, as well as a ton of foodie websites, marketing websites, beverage industry websites and local news outlets. Heck, it even made it to Snopes. Basically, it was everywhere.
You can't put a price on that kind of social and media exposure, and Arby's knows it. The brand has embraced the weird and out-there, taking big swings with branded merchandise, with similar results. Just this October, Arby's released a line of sweats that were smoked by BBQ pitmasters, and in 2019 released a set of lederhosen decorated in a meat design and dubbed "Meaterhosen." Both of these, unsurprisingly, picked up a good deal of media attention as well.
Still, Arby's isn't the first to release a branded spirit—in fact, this seems to be a growing trend among large brands looking to make a promotional splash. T-mobile released "5-Gin" earlier this year, while Elon Musk turned a Twitter joke into a real, Tesla-branded tequila. Taco Bell even launched a wine, "Jalapeno Noir," late last year.
Given the results, we'd expect this trend to continue. At least until everyone has one too many shots of spicy Curly Fry vodka and can never look at hard liquor again. Drink responsibly, friends.