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Zubrowka Vodka

Zubrowka Bison Grass
Flavored Vodka


By Robert Plotkin

The Poles during the Middle Ages hit on the idea that wódka might taste better if it had any taste whatsoever. So into their stills they began tossing in herbs, honey and numerous varieties of fruit, each with varying success. By the end of the 16th century, scores of flavored vodkas existed throughout Poland and Eastern Europe, among them Zmijowka, a notorious spirit steeped with poisonous adders. It never really caught on with Europeans, but Zubrówka Bison Grass Flavored Vodka thankfully did.

Made exclusively in and around the Bialowieza Forest on the Polish- Belarusian border, Zubrówka (pronounced zoo-BROV-ka) is a rye vodka distilled with the essential oils of hand-harvested bison grass. The prized, highly aromatic grass retains its fragrance long after being cut and grows wild only in a few glades within the forest preserve, whose secret locations are closely guarded by their landowners.

Long revered by enthusiasts and aficionados, Zubrówka is a tantalizing spirit with a greenish tint and an oily, medium-weight body. The bison grass imbues the vodka with an assertive herbal nose and a spicy, peppery and herbal palate similar to that of a fine silver tequila. The finish is flavorful with a crisp flinty edge. Every bottle contains a long, slender blade of grass.

Generations of Poles insist this traditional spirit increases virility, vitality and strength. They say even folks with no pulse will feel better after drinking Zubrówka. Still others contend that the bison grass gives the vodka aphrodisiac properties. Whatever the motivation, it's an 80-proof experience not to be missed.