A New Kind of Zu: Bison Grass Vodka Makes It to the States
The legendary Żubrówka ZU has been brewed with bison grass since the 14th century.
Katarzyna Płonska, Export Marketing Manager for CEDC
Poland has been brewing up world-class vodkas for more than six hundred years. Numerous vodka connoisseurs rank Polish production over the best vodkas from Europe, and excellent Polish vodkas are readily available in the U.S. But, surprisingly, one of the oldest and most respected of the Polish vodkas is just now entering the U.S.market: Żubrówka.
This newcomer, Żubrówka (pronounced zoo-BROOF-ka) has been produced in Poland since the 14th century. It has achieved almost legendary status in Europe because of it's unique blend of rye distillate, flavored with bison grass. Unlike many vodkas Żubrówka actually has a nose - a subtle, but lingering vanilla and jasmine fragrance. The taste is clean with an unusually mild finish.
And, even the grass used to make this vodka is mythical. It's harvested by hand, from a spectacularly unspoiled forest on the border of Poland and Belarus. The area is so untouched and rare, it has been designated a U.N. heritage site. In Poland it's referred to simply as the “green lungs.”
The last herd of European bison, who coincidentally are related to American buffalo, roam this extraordinary corner of the world. The name Żubrówka is derived from Żubr, meaning bison. Each bottle of Żubrówka contains a single blade of bison grass to remind drinkers of the liquor's exceptional origin.
So why has it taken so long for this exquisite elixir to find its way to the states? Blame it on an over zealous Food and Drug Administration who banned the liquor because it contains coumarin, a chemical that occurs naturally in the grass. Coumarin also exists in foods such as strawberries and cherries. Europeans have been drinking Żubrówka for centuries, but the U.S. FDA categorized the vodka with substances like absinthe.
Undeterred, Żubrówka producers experimented for several years to slightly modify their traditional recipe and create a distillate without coumarin that is still as smooth and distinctive as the original product. Finally, the vodka received FDA approval. Then marketing became an issue. Predictably, Americans had trouble pronouncing and remembering the name. “So, we came up with ZU,” explains Katarzyna Plonska
In the meantime, Żubrówka ZU has been picking up prizes faster than a stampeding herd of bison. Recent competitions include these:
The Żubrówka ZU Ambassadors team is also scheduling tasting events around the U.S. Płonska says, “Our Zu Hot Head enthusiasts are successfully promoting Żubrówka in New York, California, Florida, Texas, Illinois, and Nevada. This year we'll add ten more states.”
So, be on the look out! After centuries of waiting, these Polish bison just might take the country by storm.
Alberto & Brent of “Our Crafty Home”
Żubrówka ZU Vodka Cocktail: Polish Kiss
Alberto & Brent
In addition to coming up, every few days, with home-improvement projects for their blog “Our Crafty Home”, Alberto and Brent are pretty handy with blenders and shakers. They've invented a particularly inspired cocktail for Żubrówka ZU vodka:
Except for the occasional fruity cocktail, we generally think that vodka should be left unflavored. That was until we had a taste of Żubrówka ZU, a Polish vodka infused with Bison Grass. Yes, sounded a bit odd, but it's truly a spectacular drinking experience. The subtle chamomile and herb flavors jump right out at you when drinking it straight up, or on ice. Another popular way of drinking Żubrówka ZU is with apple juice, which gave us the inspiration for our cocktail this week. Here's the recipe...
Makes 2 cocktails
Pour the Żubrówka ZU and apple juice into a shaker filled with ice, shake well and serve in martini glasses. Garnish with the fruit. Calling this drink an Appletini is tempting, but wouldn't be fair. It's rich, smooth, fragrant, and delicious...kind of like the perfect kiss. Enjoy!