Oh yes, that’s right. After berating so many vodka drinkers for their love of a bland, tasteless liquor that just doesn’t have what it take to become gin, the GINtender has selected Bison Grass vodka as the liquor ingredient of the month.
But before too much judgment is passed, we here at the GINtender implore you to give this Polish anomaly a chance.
Zubrowka (pronounced “Zhu-bruff-ka”) is a vodka that gets it unique flavoring from Hierochloe Odorata (Bison) grass, which is a naturally occurring herb found in Bialoweize (the last primeval forest in Europe and located in northeastern Poland). Vodka containing bison grass is thought to have first been distilled in the region some 600 years ago.
According to legend, this rare herb once served as an aphrodisiac and was thought to increase virility.
Today, the plant is painstakingly harvested by hand as it is notoriously difficult to cultivate. After the grass is dried, vodka (distilled from rye) is forced through the grass in a similar method that espresso coffee machines force water through ground coffee. The palate is herby, grassy with notes of citrus, vanilla, lavender, tobacco, cold jasmine and tea with a creamy mouth-feel.
In the United States, Zubrowka measures out at an even 40 proof (80% alcohol).
Like most vodkas, it is extremely easy to mix, but its delicate subtlety makes it ideal for martini concocting. Thus, the reason why Zubrowka is one of the only vodkas the GINtender has any respect for!
February promises to be an exciting month for mixing as we explore the possibilities of bison grass. Check back daily or subscribe to the GINtedner to get daily recipes featuring this respectable vodka.