up! found Canadian actor Dan Aykroyd digging for dinos in a remote bone bed, just west of Grande Prairie. There to boost funds for the $26-million Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum, Aykroyd was happy to dust himself off and chat about Crystal Head Vodka, travelling, and his favourite place in the world.
How did Crystal Head vodka come about?
My friends and I wanted to make a vodka without adding the glycol, citrus oil and without adding sugar. I was with John Alexander (the bottle’s designer) on a snowy February afternoon in Manhattan, there in his loft and John said he always wanted to do a bottle made out of a skull because he loved the day of the dead legend. So I said to John, "draw up the bottle sometime, we’ll look at it in a couple of months." I turn around two minutes later and he has the thing drawn on a napkin. It looked like the Mitchell-Hedges crystal skull. A 12-year-old girl named Anna Mitchell-Hedges found it in the Yucatan in the late 1920s. She had it for a long time in Ontario and when people saw it there was a tremendous sensation of wellbeing. I thought what a perfect enclosure to put our pure spirit in and vice versa.
Why is the vodka distilled over Herkimer diamonds?
It has a spiritual element for us because we are trading on the legend of the crystal heads. Honestly, if you took your high school chemistry teacher and said, ‘what does pouring this vodka over Herkimer diamonds really do for it?’ He’d say, “nothing.” Herkimer, NY is a geo-physically anomalous region in the world, which bubbles up these semi-precious crystals right out of the ground. We purchased them from a farmer who mines these semi-precious stones. It’s my theory that anybody visiting upstate New York by mechanized craft from another planet would want to go to Herkimer because on their scanning devices, this would appear as a really spectacular sight.
How do you drink Crystal Head?
I love to take a tumbler and fill it full of ice and put an ounce and a half of the vodka and infuse it very slowly with a fresh squeezed tangerine orange. That’s the Crystal driver and it’s delicious.
The vodka is made in Newfoundland so do you spend a lot of time there?
Not enough. I’ve been there a couple of times. I expect to go back next summer. Love the people there. Wonderful province. Anyone in Canada who hasn’t been there should go. Newfoundlanders represent the heart of Canada as a generous, compassionate, peacekeeping nation, with true, honest values and a love of the nation.
What kind of a traveller are you?
I’m not much for sand sitting. I will occasionally, I have done it but it’s no good for longer than five days. I prefer to see wildlife, geological formations and anything to do with topography. But I like to go back to a good tent or a good hotel at the end of the day, no matter where we are.
Do people recognize when you travel?
I realized now after thirty plus years in the business that there’s no hiding anymore and that’s fine. I like people and I’m not Richard Nixon so they come up and say nice things to me. I don’t check any luggage and I will take my hat and my glasses off. I will remove my jacket, my belt, my wallet with the credit cards and change, my shoes and then I take whatever jeans or trousers that I’m wearing and completely remove them then I have a double boxer briefs there so it doesn’t alarm people.
It really doesn’t alarm people?
The TSA love it because this is an example of a man who’s showing us he has nothing to hide and I even ask for a wand frisk, up the arch and down.
What is your favourite place in the world?
My farm in eastern Ontario, that’s where my family settled in 1826. We still have the same place and I love it there. We have wildlife, wolverines, fisher cats, ferrets, weasels, lynx and bobcats. It’s just spectacular. It keeps my two attack dogs quite busy. They like to get in fights, and I have to haul them back.
After Ghostbusters III, any more films planned?
No, I’m on the backend of that career and happily so. I’d like to get Ghostbusters III made if that doesn’t happen, I have other interests.
What about Coneheads II?
I liked the Coneheads. It was a good picture. No, that’s all about the past, I’m into the future and loving life right now.