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  • Writer's pictureKhalid Williams

Cylinder Vodka: A Spirited Journey of Passion and Tenacity


A bottle of Cylinder Vodka with Dylan's Jefferis' "The Nikkei" Cocktail

Crafted by a bartender with the industry in mind, Cylinder is what the Vodka Renaissance is all about- honestly produced spirits making thoughtfully crafted cocktails.

NEWS FLASH-We are in the midst of a vodka renaissance. Ironically, the most popular and highly consumed spirit in America has been ignored and sometimes dissed by bartenders. Ask a bartender what they're favorite vodka flavor is, and in past years you would get a wry smile and a one word response: "Gin."A New Day

Our cocktail revolution has now shined its creative light on vodka. Straight, non flavored spirit that's defined as "odorless, colorless and tasteless" has always been anything but, and skilled mixologists are using it as a canvas to allow complex flavor combinations shine. This is huge-it provides an entry point for all drinkers to get into thoughtfully produced cocktails and gives bartenders more freedom to get wonderfully weird.

The People Behind the Product-Why Cylinder Vodka Matters

When you think of 'vodka', what comes to mind? For Stelios Stavrianos, the answer is hard work, dedication, and a commitment to excellence. His journey from bartender to distiller is one that's steeped in devotion to his craft and a deeply instilled work ethic. Welcome to the world of Cylinder Vodka, a premium spirit distilled in Connecticut from non-GMO corn. At a tender age of 19, Stelios started his journey in the cocktail industry, not by mixing drinks, but by sweeping floors behind the bar. He worked tirelessly, waiting tables and learning the ropes at renowned bars like Hula Hanks, Globe, and 84 Park. This immersive experience was eye-opening, providing Stelios with a two-sided perspective of how and why people make their drinking decisions.

The Soul Behind the Spirit

Founder of Cylinder Vodka, Stelios Stavrianos

Born and raised in Stamford, Stelios is a first-generation Greek American, a background that has significantly influenced his work ethic. His father, who emigrated to America at 13, juggled multiple jobs to secure their family home. Stelios inherited this tenacity, stating, "Every move that I make, there’s a company with several billion dollars in the bank that can make the same move faster. I owe it to my business, my family legacy, and the culture in general to work twice as hard as them."

Before launching Cylinder Vodka in 2017, Stelios spent two years experimenting with every element of the distilling process. From attending YouTube University [the informal title given to mastering a trade or craft by viewing hours of video tutorials) to buying his first still off Amazon, he left no stone unturned. His vision was to create a vodka that was smooth, made honestly with good ingredients, and one that could redefine what 'cocktail-friendly' means in the vodka world. The clean palate and richness on the mouth allow for drinks that have more continuity and begs creative drink smiths to push flavor boundaries.

Even the aesthetics of Cylinder Vodka reflect Stelios' meticulousness. The glass bottle, devoid of a wooden cork (which he strongly feels can ruin the uniformity and possibly contaminate the liquid), presents clean lines from top to bottom. It's a testament to creative uniformity and consistency, vital cornerstones in successful food and drink concepts.

"The name 'Cylinder' represents the shape of the industry; the stools, the glassware, the mixing glass, the tins, the candles, and the cylindrical chamber that ferments and distills," Stelios says. It's a nod to the industry's core and echoes the cyclical nature of human experience.

Perfect Chemistry and a Brand Partnership

Stelios Stavrianos and Dimitrios Zahariadis

All of the best endeavors are the result of collaboration. Dimitrios Zahariadis is a cocktail guru and a forefather of the beverage scene in Connecticut as well as the man who brought us Cocktail Chemist canned cocktails. Stelios and Dim, as he's known, bonded over their similar upbringing and cultural background. They both had a vision of creating a multifaceted beverage company and have infused their respective resources to form Core Beverage Group. They plan to keep pushing the envelope, releasing spirits with ties to traditional Greek beverages, innovative RTD's and even non alcoholic offerings. "We simply view the business in similar terms and are partnering to increase our mutual success"

The Ultimate Measure- Bartenders Using Cylinder to Be Great

Winner of the Cylinder Bartender Competition, Dylan Jefferis

The first cocktail competition hosted by Cylinder Vodka took place at The Industrial, a modern neighborhood bar run by an award-winning industry professional, Andres Soriano. Unlike many bars opened by speculators with ego to burn but zero industry experience, The Industrial is a labor of love built on twenty years of hard work and passion. The competition brought together six remarkable bartenders, united in their belief in both the brand and the bar.

Dylan Jeffries, a Hartford bartender heading up the beverage program at Parkville Market and a force in the culture, has embraced vodka as more than a money-maker or a reluctant necessity, he uses it as a canvas for complex flavor profiles and as a base that lends body, adds richness and opens up other aromatics for a more complete beverage. "For the Cylinder competition I created a cocktail inspired by the flavors of Nikkei cuisine( Japanese, Peruvian ) and street corn. It is in essence a punch style cocktail. With the 5 key elements being spirit, sugar, spice, citrus and water, it’s light, refreshing, savory, slightly dry, and a bit floral. I really enjoyed creating this cocktail and even more so sneaking kümmel liqueur into the drink which is very odd and hard to use ingredient [Kümmel is a liqueur made of primarily cumin, fennel and caraway. It is big, funky, spicy and yet can add a delicate dimension when used by an attentive and clever cocktail crafter.] Many of my co-workers describe it as boozy taco seasoning and I honestly couldn’t agree more. The Nikkei 1.75 oz Cylinder vodka .5 oz Nixta Licor de elote .25 oz Kummel .75 oz Corn nut orgeat .75 oz Yuzu juice Chili threads Toasted corn husk

In essence, Cylinder Vodka isn't just a spirit - it's a story of passion, tenacity, and a relentless pursuit of excellence. Here's to Stelios and his commitment to redefining the vodka industry, one cylinder at a time.

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