ArtFood & DrinkLeather

A taste of Tom of Finland

A new line of vodka and an art exhibition celebrate a gay icon and arbiter of queer taste.

Tom of Finland’s draw­ings of well-built, well-hung (to say the least) men in denim and leather and his unapologetic depic­tions of gay male arousal shaped a strong image of desire for a generation of gay men.

Tom of Fin­land is the artist’s pen name of Touko Laakso­nen (1920—1991), who signed his erotic illustrations “Tom” and when his draw­ings were first pub­lished in 1957, and the now world-famous “Tom of Fin­land” was born. 

To honor the centenary of his birth a memorial plaque was placed on the façade of the apartment building in Helsinki where he and his partner Veli Mäkinen (1932-1981) lived between 1969-1984. The building, housing cooperative Sampsa, is located at Tehtaankatu 7 in Helsinki.

Tom of Finland, photographed c. 1959

The plaque was the result of a contest and the cofounder and president of Tom of Finland Foundation, Durk Dehner, acted as the head of the jury. The three best proposals were presented to the board of directors of the housing cooperative Sampsa in early spring 2020. Among the proposals Sampsa chose the memorial plaque designed by the 47 year old graphic designer Matu Kormano. It depicts a familiar masculine figure in profile by late iconic artist and bears his famous signature. It is based on Tom’s untitled linoleum cut print from 1981.

A toast to the Tom of Finland plaque in Helsinki | Photo:

As part of the ongoing appreciation one hundred years after his birth, now it’s possible to enjoy Tom in a bottle! Tom of Finland Organic Vodka celebrates the life and art of Laaksonen, single-handedly dreamed and drew what became iconic visions of gay male culture. His work has influenced lifestyle, especially that of “leather men,” politics, design, fashion and art.

The vodka is distilled at Lignell & Piispanen, the oldest distillery in Finland. Fermented from 95% wheat with 5% rye, and pristine water from the surrounding Arctic region, this liquor is strong and smooth.

The bottle design features a monochromatic and classic Tom ‘leather daddy’ image that makes the perfect gift. It’s a bold and daring brand with world-class liquid that is potent enjoyed neat or in your favorite night-time beverage. For something different and delicious at cocktail time, try this:


1 oz Tom of Finland Organic Vodka
.3 oz St. Germain
.7 oz Chablis or other acidic white wine
.2 oz honey vinegar
2 dashes orange bitters
Pour all ingredients into an iced mixing glass and stir carefully until well chilled, then
strain into a Nick & Nora glass. Garnish with miniature pickle or a thin slice of lemon peel.

And let’s not forget the art itself! To get a taste of the full artistic legacy of Tom of Finland, you are invited on Tuesday, December 29 at 6:30 pm for a virtual tour of the Tom of Finland exhibition at Galerie Judin in Berlin. Former Creative Director of Bruno Gmunder Books, Mischa Gawronski, will be joining Executive Director Hunter O’Hanian for the virtual tour of the exhibition.

To register for the virtual tour, go here.

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