"It comes in a papoose!" That was my delighted cry when I opened my festive box of ZU Vodka, an artisanal bison grass flavored vodka. ZU Vodka is produced by the one and only authorized manufacturer of the legendary Polish Żubrówka, which has been around since the 14th century.
Bison grass? Yes. In fact, there's a stalk of bison grass included in every bottle of ZU. The vodka is wonderfully complex and could be a drink all on its own, with an unmistakably herbaceous flavor of fresh grass and hints of chamomile, almond and vanilla. The vodka itself has a greenish tint, which definitely stands out in a crowd.
A PR representative for ZU told me about Żubrówka's popularity in Poland, so I wrote to a Polish friend of mine, Ola Bienkowska, to get the real scoop on what the Polish opinion was. Here was her reply:
Ola's word is good enough for me! Also, so is the ZU Vodka, which I tasted and enjoyed thoroughly with apple juice, on its own, and with soda. The herbal flavor might make you think "spring" or "summer," but when it comes in a fur-lined papoose, it's definitely suitable for the holidays -- and would make a great gift for your Polish or vodka connoisseur friends."Yes, Żubrówka is very, very popular. In fact it's a classic, right among Wyborowa and Belvedere. 'Żubr' is 'bison' in Polish, so 'Żubrówka' is 'Bison vodka.' It's very popular, and actually perceived as classier than the others. This is because it's rarely drunk straight up or in shots, rather, it's used in cocktails. It's extremely popular with apple juice -- that's the classic Polish vodka drink and no other vodkas are used to make it. So, it's more of a 'genteel' drink, for ladies and gentlemen, not your regular drunks! It also looks different. It's slightly yellow-brown-green tinted and there's a piece of grass in the bottle, hence the name. Girls will go for it. So will most men."
Gallery: ZU Vodka - Holiday Papoose
ŻU Vodka is currently available in New York, California, Florida, Illinois, Texas, Colorado and Nevada where fine spirits are sold. The suggested retail price is $25 for a 750ml bottle. For more information, visit: www.ZUVodka.com.