Review: Bak’s Zubrowka Bison Grass Vodka
What the heck is bison grass? It’s grass that, well, bison eat, at least in Poland. And what’s good for the buffalo is also curiously delicious for vodka fans: Zubrówka (pronounced zoo-BROV-ka), also known as bison grass vodka, is now being reintroduced to America after 30 years of being banned, much like Absinthe, due to a chemical compound in bison grass (called coumarin) which has been deemed mildly toxic.
I don’t know how much real bison grass is used to flavor Bak’s Zubrówka (“natural and artificial flavors” are on the label, as is FD&C Yellow #5), but whatever concoction is in use in this Polish vodka, it’s quite striking. The aroma is overwhelmingly one of pistachio (something that took me 10 minutes to place). The flavor is less pronounced. Distilled from rye and bottled at 82 proof, it’s got a fairly typical taste that is reminiscent of most grain-based vodkas, but with a sweeter, nutty, lightly herbal aftertaste.
I’d definitely like to experiment with it in dessert drinks, but it’s also good as an ice-cold shot and, strangely, mixed with apple juice (a traditional way of serving Zubrówka). It’s a little strange to steal the kids’ apple juice for cocktail purposes, but hey, that’s life.
B+ / $27