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Grexit: when politics hits the bottle

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Translation by:

Alison Haywood


Fifty cents. That's what a 20ml bottle of "Grexit" vodka with lemon costs. At the end of January, German entrepreneur Uwe Dahlhoff had already patented the brand, just as the European press established the term as a synonym for Greece's possible exit out of the Eurozone.

The times in which Greeks and Germans fostered good relationships and partied together - somewhat after Greece's legendary victory in the 2004 European Football Championships - sadly appear to be over. Businessman Dahlhoff is certain, however, that despite the tense political relations, his product will be seen in a positive light and taken with good humour in both countries. At least the Greek journalist Aggelos Andreou agrees with him - he finds the idea "funny and creative." According to him, there are also Greeks who would find the product offensive, but "they're just people who lack humour." The German entrepreneur also sees his product as "food for thought for the German people" so that they will also think a little bit more about the complicated situation in Greece.

The vodka lemon drink, with 16 percent alcohol per volume, is not the first potentially-offensive spirit that Dahlhoff has introduced to the market: Earlier he managed to bring to supermarket shelves, among other things, "Helmuts Birne" (Helmut's Pears), a pear schnapps alluding to the former German chancellor Helmut Kohl, and the herb liqueur "Erichs Rache" (Erik's Revenge), satirising the former East German general secretary Erich Honecker and nostalgia for East Germany.

Because the Greek national drink Ouzo is only allowed to be produced in its homeland, Dahlhoff decided to go with the Russian variation: vodka. To the question of whether it bothered him that it wasn't aniseed liqueur, Dahlhoff answered: "It would have obviously been optimal to bottle Ouzo, but in principle, it's a Greek national drink, and it should remain so."

However, after he decided for the Russian version, the question of whether he had thrown away the chance to make a product devoted to Russian President Vladimir Putin arose. Dahlhoff pointed out that Putin is not so easy to market. "Then something really unusual would have to happen," he said.

Last Monday's decision from the Eurozone countries on whether or not to support Greece with a new program could be crucial for the continued marketing of the brand "Grexit." Even if it appears for the moment that a "Grexit" is off the table, the spirits inventor has already thought ahead: In the case that the southern European land actually exits the Eurozone in the future, he wants to bring an energy drink with the same name to the market. He said it should be taken as a metaphor that "it is absolutely feasible, after a possible Grexit, to have the power to rehabilitate oneself. According to my personal convictions, the Greeks were really screwed. The people who live there can't really do anything about their circumstances."

The businessman also claimed he didn't seriously intend to start with his idea until the economics magazine Wirtschaftswoche researched the trademark without his help after he'd registered it. "Then of course I couldn't get off the hook. They would have reported it either way. From then on I was 'forced' to manufacture products," he said.

One thing appears certain: Dahlhoff's entrepreneurial spirit and his creativity are far from exhausted. According to him, he doesn't have his eye on any new projects at this time, because "it's obviously always dependent on what's happening in the political world at this time."

Online sales in Germany are already operating at top speed. And how many Greeks will purchase the satirical spirits at the end? Nobody can say. Well then, prost und jamas!

Translated from Grexit: Politik tief in der Flasche