The booze biz is filled with so many flavored and infused vodkas that they’ve become the object of ridicule. Go to the right place (or the wrong place, depending upon your perspective) and you’ll find vodka flavored with bacon, bubble gum or habaneros, to name just three maladjusted misfits of the spirits world.
Most are meant to appease trend-chasing party girls and frat boys who want to blindly swill cheap vodka accented with familiar flavors or offering an offbeat story.
But there’s one vodka that pairs a cool story with unique flavors and real-deal culinary street cred. It’s called zubrowka and it’s flavored with … wait for it … bison grass from the Bialowieza Forest of northeastern Poland. It’s the world’s last wild refuge for the majestic European wood bison that once roamed the continent, much as their American bison cousins once ruled the Great Plains.
“Zubrowka is an absolute legend, especially in Europe,” said an enthused Leonard Kacaj, the Albanian-born bar manager at hot new Zef Cicchetti & Raw Bar in Quincy Center, who offers Bak’s brand zubrowka. “Polish nobility has been drinking it since the 12th century. It’s the one infused vodka that’s stood the test of time because of its tradition and how its flavored.”
There’s a long thin blade of bison grass in each bottle of Bak’s zubrowka (pronounced zu-broov-ka). It is distributed throughout the Boston area by Bay State Wine & Spirits of Avon and can also be found at Inman Square Wine & Spirits in Cambridge and Ball Square Fine Wines in Somerville.
More than a gimmick, Bak’s bison grass vodka has generated rave reviews from the wine and spirits communities. Wine Enthusiast gives it a 95 point/ Superb rating; F. Paul Pacult’s Spirit Journal handed out four stars and calls it “highly recommended.”
Zubrowka was once banned in the United States because it contained traces of a blood-thinning chemical called coumarin. The recipe was rejiggered for the American market in recent years by several distillers, so the Food and Drug Administration let the new versions back into the country.
“The bison grass gives the vodka some coconut, vanilla and almond flavors,” Kacaj said. “It can be dry and crispy, especially when paired with fresh fruit juices like apples, blackberries, and raspberries.”
Zef in Quincy features Bak’s zubrowka in the Black Bison cocktail, a refreshing blend of bison grass, fruit juices and muddled blackberries.
Read more at source: Boston Herold