By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski | April 20, 2022
Mark Gus Scott was walking the aisles of a local drugstore looking for vodka, when he realized the United States was underrepresented.
“I saw Smirnoff Ice, Stoli,” he says. “I did not see one American brand.
“I wondered how the hell is it that no American brand came to prominence in CVS shelves in the middle of the Southwest. That is inexcusable.”
So, the Phoenix resident founded American Premium vodka to celebrate the “greatness of America.”
“When I was a kid, I took my flag to the Memorial Day parade and whipped it around,” says Scott, who played drums for the rock band Trixter.
“That sentiment, that pageantry of America has been beaten away. That is a crime. That’s why I started the brand: out of disgust. I literally started the brand out of disgust of that idea, and I’m the guy who’s going to put America on the shelf.”
He vows to bring America back together, in light of the ever-growing divide between Democrats and Republicans. Scott created a nationwide fundraising campaign initiative to donate $1 from every bottle sold to support American Legion Veteran Charities. American Premium vodka sells for $16 per bottle.
Scott, who took delivery of the vodka on March 29, will host launch parties at American Legion posts across the nation. The move started with a party at American Legion Pat Tillman Post No. 117.
“American Premium vodka is an ally in our relentless pursuit of fostering Americanism,” says Steve Lackey, that post’s commander.
“The efforts we all make as members of the legion breed something special throughout our communities and pay special tribute to our real American heroes — our veterans.”
The vodka, which is gluten free, will be sold first on military bases — including Luke Air Force Base — and at American Legions and VFW halls.
“That’s my goal,” he says. “Everyone else waits. We’re doing it completely backward. There are 12,000 posts for the American Legion and 6,000 posts for the VFW. It’s a salute to our people. They’re the people who gave everything for us. The least I can do is give a little something to them.”
Scott traveled the country looking at distilleries. Little did he know, the company to produce it was in his backyard — Desert Rock Winery in the Scottsdale Airpark.
“They did a great job over there,” Scott adds. “They are very knowledgeable. I wasn’t a vodka expert. He gave me a lot of insight. But they’re rock ’n’ rollers.”
One of Scott’s slogans is “The America we need right now.” That reflects Scott’s belief that there hasn’t been a greater divide in the country since slavery.
“When I was 15 or 16, I was the hotshot trumpet player,” adds Scott, a New Jersey native. “I was the guy who played taps at the memorial cemetery. When I did that, I looked around and there was no one else there. They send me, a 16-year-old kid, to recognize our veterans in the ground. Nobody else was going to carry the weight of this thing. There’s something wrong with that, so I’m here to fix it.”
American Premium Vodka