We celebrated National Vodka Day today with Zu, a brand of zubrówka* (pronounced zhu-BRUF-kah), or bison grass flavored vodka. Made by a number of distillers, zubrówka is also referred to as buffalo grass vodka.
But it was bison, not buffalo, that roamed the Bialowieza Forest of eastern Poland—cousins of the bison that once populated the Great Plains of America. (See the difference between bison and buffalo. And yes, the U.S. government got it wrong when they minted the “buffalo” nickel.)
Bialowieza Forest, the last primeval† forest in Europe, is no longer home to thundering herds of bison. Today it houses a protected herd of some 450 of the magnificent beasts. Zubr is the Polish word for the European bison/European wood bison (Bison bonasus), locally known as wisent (VY-zent).
Zubr are particularly fond of munching on what became known as bison grass.
Bison aren’t the only ones fond of the grass. It was used as an herb to flavor vodka, which was enjoyed by Polish society after hunting expeditions—hopefully with some nice bison steaks. An egalitarian drink, zubrówka, manufactured since the 14th century, was enjoyed by the peasantry as well.
The blade of bison grass in the bottle is for decorative purposes. The bison grass is infused into the vodka during production, adding lovely flavor and a pale yellow color. (Mass producers use a tincture of bison grass instead of infusing.)
A truly different vodka: a very memorable
gift. Photo courtesy ZuVodka.com.
Zu vodka is delightfully aromatic. Floral, vanilla and almond notes abound on the nose, with some added celery notes on the palate.
Keep it in mind for holiday gifting to friends with sophisticated palates. For more information visit ZuVodka.com.
Find more of our favorite spirits, plus lots of cocktail recipes, in our Cocktails & Spirits Section.
†A virgin, or old-growth forest.
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