Sources and Photos: Many thanks to Tito’s Handmade Vodka
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These days, how and where we spend our hard-earned coin matters more than ever. Like anything else, our go-to pour provides both a chance to indulge and an opportunity to generate social, economic and/or environmental impact.

Medal of Honor recipient Ty M. Carter opened my eyes to Tito’s during an interview a few years back. The American hero is a fellow dog lover who also takes his love of country, service and vodka seriously. Like Ty, I don’t believe in overthinking it – just being informed and rising above the well.

Not only is Tito’s reliable and irresistible to many a vodka-lover, its extraordinary commitment to supporting animals, people and the planet has inspired a legion of fans and followers who may not even drink the stuff. Now no other vodka will do.

Photo: Co-Woofer Tita; Tito’s Handmade Vodka

Tito’s is proud to be America’s Original Craft Vodka. In 1995, Bert “Tito” Beveridge obtained the first legal permit to distill in Texas and created Tito’s Handmade Vodka. Under his direction, the brand batch-distills its smooth-as-silk corn-based vodka using old-fashioned pot stills, and the vodka is naturally gluten-free. A perfectionist with a vision, Tito wouldn’t rest until he found his formula. 

In the early days when Tito started making vodka at the Mockingbird Distillery, his best “furriend” and the brand’s first co-woofer, DogJo, stood by his side day and night to keep him company. As Tito pursued his liquid dreams, DogJo played wingman and confidant.

New to the vodka business, Tito struggled to make ends meet, yet he donated cases to nonprofits in need, welcoming the opportunity for folks to taste his new vodka. “If you like it, tell 20 of your closest friends,” he said… and they did. The word got out – not just about the vodka, but also about Tito’s philanthropic business practices. The phone started to ring more often, and Tito’s fell into the “charity event” business.

Photo: Dog Store Tasting; Tito’s Handmade Vodka

As the company grew, Tito empowered each and every member of the team, regardless of their role, to support the causes they were passionate about in their local communities. Every time a team member reached out to extend a hand, to make a difference, to say, “Thank you for inviting us to help the cause,” they signed off with, “Love, Tito’s.” This salutation became a mantra, which turned into a movement. Through Love, Tito’s, the team has supported thousands of causes – lending a hand to rebuild communities after devastation, spreading joy to those who need a little more, and protecting the environment we all share.

Photo: Co-Woofers for charity; Tito’s Handmade Vodka

These days, Tito’s is also the Vodka for Dog People, with a pet-friendly workplace policy at their headquarters in Austin and awards for being one of the most “pet-friendly” places to work in the United States. Tito’s first trusty pup, DogJo, may have passed on, but the canine heart of the operation beats stronger than ever. Taki is the new resident Tito’s distillery dog, trotting, sniffing and snacking in DogJo’s paw prints, while other beloved “co-woofers” snooze adorably under employees’ desks and in cozy spots around the property.

Tito’s Vodka for Dog Program and social advocacy group Dogs at Work recently partnered to present Dogs at Work, an information center that educates business owners on the value of bringing dogs to work and provides real resources to encourage the practice. Visit

Photo: Distillery Dog Willie; Tito’s Handmade Vodka

Canine appreciation doesn’t stop there. Tito’s “Co-Woofer of the Month” series includes exclusive interviews with adorable pups “on the job,” while other programs celebrate “Adventure Canines” and more.

The Tito’s team is also committed to protecting and rescuing animals that have wandered into the distillery in search of food and water. The company has worked with numerous nonprofits, such as Austin Humane Society, Wings of Rescue, Basseterre Animal Rescue Centre (BARC) St. Kitts, and others to help eliminate animal homelessness in Austin and surrounding communities.

The goal at Tito’s is simple: to turn spirits into love and goodness. Essentially, Tito’s has evolved into a philanthropy-driven company that sells vodka on the side.

DO try this at home – The Grackle

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For those who dream of a winter wonderland, Finnish Lapland is as close as it gets to the real thing. Untouched and pristine nature is at the core of Finnish life. It also makes for the ultimate “Do Not Disturb” location.

Hidden away more than 150 miles north of the Arctic Circle in Finnish Lapland, Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort is an enchanting, otherworldly destination. From hunting for aurora, to exploring the pristine artic wilderness, to dozing off under the Northern Lights in a glass igloo, there are plenty of romantic arctic adventures in store.

For a truly unique date night at Kakslauttanen, nothing beats a private couples’ smoke sauna (Savusauna) experience. This quintessential Finnish endeavor combines the soft warmth of the sauna, cool refreshing beverage and – for the bold – the exhilarating cold plunge. Best described as invigorating and adrenaline inducing with potential health benefits, it’s also downright sexy.

What begins with expert service and instruction, soon feels as though you’re the only two people on earth. Whereas modern wood-heated sauna stoves have a chimney to let out the smoke, but not so with the Finnish smoke sauna; instead, the smoke of the fire is trapped inside as it would have been millennia ago, along with the heat of the stove that is no longer lost up the chimney. The smoke is allowed out through the door immediately prior to the sauna-goers’ entrance, and the sauna then relies on its stored-up heat. Breathing in deeply while watching the fire crackle and glow, the body begins to soften with sweat and the heat releases all tension and boundaries.

Forget colored lights, aromatic fragrances and relaxing music: real Finnish saunas are dimly lit, and there’s no music or smells except for fresh birch and natural tar. Made from soaked birch twigs, the sauna whisks are used to gently whip yourself or one another, stimulating circulation and filling the air with their aroma. Whether or not you’re into this sort of thing at home, “whipping” your partner in the sauna is not only an accepted practice, it’s encouraged. It may sound bizarre but it’s a lot of playful fun and really good for your skin – you’ll feel the smoothness afterwards.

Time is not an issue. Neither is running around naked – indoors and out. At your leisure, time is spent alternating between the smoke sauna itself, the cold outdoors, and the warm cabin complete with a full fridge, shower, warm towels, hot showers and a roaring fire. With virtually no one around and no other building in sight, you can easily move between spaces, bodies steaming, and sans clothing.

The Finns’ laid-back manner and tendency to give you your own space ensures you are guaranteed privacy. Should your private butler catch sight of the “real” you (the national standard is to sauna in the nude), never fear – the Finns have seen their fair share of naked human bodies and it’s not a “thing” to be naked with perfect strangers in sauna.  It’s only natural, and every body is welcomed and accepted without judgement.

Photo: Harri Tarvainen; Visit Finland

Of course, you and your partner will be sweating heavily in the sauna, so it’s important to take breaks and drink plenty of fluids. Water is probably best, but fortunately, according to the locals, beer and cider are actually preferred during sauna. Stepping out into the brilliant cold night air, the snow sparkles bright white and the sky is lit up with the brightest stars you’ve ever seen; the truly fortunate may also see Aurora rippling above in dazzling shades of blue and green. This far north, the brilliant Northern Lights can appear on a crystal-clear night sky like magic nearly 200 nights a year.

They don’t call it “liquid courage” for nothing. Kaklauttanen’s private smoke sauna experience for two also involves dropping the towel and either diving into the snow together or plunging your bodies into a natural pool cut through the ice. The secret to dipping into icy water lies in plenty of fearless, alcohol-induced insanity, and you’ll be rewarded by a kind of euphoric feeling that surges through your body once you get out. As soon as you’re back on dry land your circulation kicks in and your body starts to warm up.

According to the experts at Visit Finland, sauna and Finland are inseparable. If you want to understand the country and its people, getting familiar with sauna is a good starting point. Whether an electric sauna in a modern business environment or an old-fashioned wood-burning sauna by a lakeside cottage, sauna is an essential part of daily life. So too is respect for nature and wildlife as well as people and their age-old customs. Just remember that for the Finnish, sauna has nothing to do with sex.

For everybody else? Just take it outside.

Produced By Corry Cook
Sources: Visit Finland; Kakslauttanen Artic Resort
Photos: Photographer Valtteri Hirvonen; Photographer Ruka Kuusamo; Visit Finland; Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort; Harri Tarvainen

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