Vodka for vets

"People have to eat, and people drink liquor. Why not drink a great one, knowing that it's also helping a veteran being screwed over by our government?"

These are the words of Joe Nedlin, the Aspen resident behind the newly launched, Colorado-exclusive Jka Vodka, a business endeavor promising to give all profits to veterans. Nedlin, whose nickname in the Army was "Joker," says he and some friends recently came up with the concept while discussing veterans issues.

"I have friends who came back from Vietnam screwed up. I meet people with kids in Iraq; when they come back, they don't get the help they need. Maybe I can make people aware," Nedlin says. "If people realize I'm a crazy bastard willing to do this at 67, maybe they'll do something, also."

Jka is made in Bend, Ore., from five-time-distilled golden maize, filtered through charcoal and crushed solidified lava; 750 ml bottles retail for close to $30. Nedlin is driving around the state delivering to liquor stores and restaurants and leaving cards that direct veterans in need to jokavodka.com, where they can request assistance with anything from counseling to paying for food or medicine. Nedlin hopes to gather and share their stories and garner enough interest that perhaps a national distributor will pick up the vodka.

Call 970/618-0062 to learn where to purchase the vodka in the Pikes Peak region.

Arrivederci, Nana (for now)

"This economy thing really got us all in a tailspin," says Mike Longo, who last week closed the restaurant side (Nana Longo's Italian Market) of his catering operation (First Impressions) at 1725 Briargate Blvd. "This was our exit strategy all along," he says about the decision to scale back to only catering and deli pick-up from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.

Nana Longo's opened in early 2007, and Longo says his hope is to get back up when the time's right, possibly as soon as sometime next year: "I still have big plans for expansion."

Visit firstimpressionscatering.com for more.

Dinner time

Flavors on Tejon (321 N. Tejon St.) will begin opening for dinner service on Fridays and Saturdays from 4 to 9 p.m., starting Dec. 12. Owner Joe Ierisi says he'll design four weekly dinner specials (each for under $20) on top of the regular breakfast and lunch menu, which will also be "upgraded" with the change.

Ierisi hopes to receive a liquor license by mid-January, and to commence with occasional wine dinners sometime thereafter. Visit flavorsontejon.com for more.

Send tips on beneficial drinks and eats to scene@csindy.com.


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