Literature and Liquor: ‘Sophie's Choice’ and Stoli’s Vodka

 (Picture via Dean Ravenola)

(Picture via Dean Ravenola)

William Styron, known for exquisite prose and devising intense moral debacles, produces a powerful ethical dilemma in “Sophie’s Choice.” Although the story is told from the point of view of Stingo, a fledgling southern writer (a young Styron), the focus of the novel is on his neighbor Sophie Zawistowska, a 30-year-old Polish Holocaust survivor.

Sophie’s character seems larger-than-life at times. She is a striking beauty who manages to encompass wide range of contradictory and exorbitant attributes. She is broken, yet beautiful. She is enduring and excitable at sometimes, but still sluggish and forlorn at others. She is the unyielding survivor of a catastrophe who is set on moving away from her past that she cannot even see she is hurtling towards a new disaster. That new disaster’s name is her boyfriend Nathan, a devilishly bright and handsome biologist who helped nurse Sophie back to health when she first arrived in America still vastly underweight and with vitamin deficiencies.

Sophie is head over heels for Nathan, therefore a realistic Stingo must remind himself as he becomes more infatuated with her. Although young Stingo at first admires Nathan’s brilliant mind and socialite wit, he soon becomes uneasy by how erratic and extreme the biologist can be. Stingo becomes wedged smack dab between the two lovers, desperate for gorgeous Sophie’s attention and affection, while also craving mentorship and guidance from shrewd yet eccentric Nathan. These three characters are all cleverly placed by Styron on an explosive collision course that can only end in more tragedy.

An excellent drink to pair with “Sophie's Choice” is Stolichnaya Vodka, also known commonly as Stoli’s. Stoli’s is the perfect companion to a book so rife with woe because not only does the old-fashioned style of vodka fit with the time-period, but it is also known for its somber mood. Despite being sold for a fairly decent price, Stoli’s is not a brand of vodka you will typically see ordered at a club or a congested bar. This is a strong (40 percent) Russian vodka with a powerful bite that might leave your eyes watering if you are not a vodka drinker.

Iconically middle-shelf, Stoli’s gives you a real vodka taste, bitterness and all, for half the price of top-shelf vodkas. Although taking a straight shot might be a bit harsh, it would not qualify as vodka if it went down completely smooth. Stolichnaya is best suited as mixing alcohol, as most soda and fruit juices will cover the bite and leave you with a powerful drink. Stoli’s also has one of the widest varieties of different flavors and is one of the only brands that is able to create flavored vodka that doesn’t taste excessively artificial. There are over 20 different Stoli’s flavors to choose from, and some of the most prominent include Blueberi, Salted Karamel, Razberi, Vanil, Ohranj, and Chocolat Razberi. Any one of these flavors would be a great companion as you explore Styron’s captivating characters and discover the truth behind Sophie’s titular choice.