The Spirit of Giving

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30,000 families displaced by Hurricane Katrina. 13,000 more stuck in trailer parks. 77,000 rental units in New Orleans destroyed. These numbers seem fresh from the disaster of 2005, but they actually reflect the state of New Orleans on the eve of the second anniversary.

New Orleans has made some progress, but it has a long way to go. To boost the city's spirit, a kindred spirit has appeared. Absolut Spirits is launching an Absolut New Orleans vodka to benefit the region. Limited to 35,000 cases, 100 percent of the proceeds will go to five Gulf Coast charities. Absolut hopes to raise $2 million.

The bottle bears a red-and-silver harmonica engraved "L.O. Smith Trio" - a hat tip to Lars Olsson Smith, whose distillation process more than a century ago gave birth to the company.

Like the city itself, Absolut New Orleans has a kick thanks to a mixture of mango and black pepper. It can also give New Orleans' signature Hurricane drink a special twist.

The support from Absolut could not have come at a better time. Largely forgotten by Americans, New Orleans is receiving fewer federal funds, even though it will take billions of dollars and years for the city to rebuild.

But the people of New Orleans are willing to work and wait for their city to be whole again. It's a spirit you can taste in their new favorite drink, Absolut New Orleans.

Hat Tip: idUnited