Instead of buying a just bottle of vodka to make cocktails, how about buying a whole vodka company — tanks, patented distillation process, bottle design, trademarked brand plus everything else?
That's exactly what is on the block this week as Shakers Vodka, the "ultra-premium" vodka made in Minnesota from wheat grown here, is being auctioned off.
And a Rochester firm, Maas Cos., is the steady hand running the online auction to sell everything related to Shakers Vodka.
It is a true "liquidation" sale.
The story starts back in 2003, when Shakers launched and soon became kind of a rock star that had the bar crowd buzzing. Its smooth taste and frosted Martini shaker-shaped bottles really shook things up.
It was a creation from the same the guys who brewed up Pete's Wicked Ale, the popular brown ale from the early days of the craft beer revolution. They sold that off in 1998 and moved on to Minnesota vodka.
This time the bar stool fairy tale didn't have a happy ending. (Technically, Pete's Wicked Ale didn't end well either, since its owner stopped making it last year due to low sales.)
In January, Blaine-based Infinite Spirits Inc. filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. That where Rochester's Maas Cos. comes into the tale.
Maas is known as an auction house that can handle out-of-the-ordinary industrial liquidation and real estate sales. The company has sold the assets of manufacturers, university campuses, ethanol plants and more.
The sky's the limit of what the company will auction off. The Rochester auction house even sold off a squadron of vintage biplanes that Minnesota's Schwan Food Corp. owned and flew in air shows to promote its Red Baron Pizza.
The word is that it was Maas' experience with selling ethanol plants, which aren't that much different from alcohol distilleries, that may have helped clinch the bid for this gig.
This auction is up and accepting bids for individual items — like a 16,000-gallon stainless steel tank — at www.shakersvodkaauction.com.
The game will change on Thursday, when the high-rollers are expected to belly up to the bar and lay down their bids to buy the whole kit and ka-bottle.
Bidding is scheduled to end at noon on June 26. That's when Maas will run the numbers to see which method brought the best price — the one-price-for-it-all bids or the sum of all of the bids for the individual items.
If the tally of all of the individual bids tops the biggest "for everything" bid, the big bidder will get a chance to match it. They will need to be $10,000 more than the collective bidders to win and put Shakers on their shelf.