Flavored vodka is the queen of the love-hate relationship. We think it’ll be a great idea to mix lemonade with raspberry flavored vodka, but then all we get is a cringe-worthy, overly sweet drink, and an even worse hangover. However, there is hope for salvation. Żubrówka (pronounced zoo-broov-ka) is the flavored vodka we’ve all been waiting for. While it’s backed by some serious history (over 400 years worth in its native Poland), it has recently gotten quite a bit more attention. Yes, we may be late to the party, but all that counts is that we showed up.
The reasoning behind this spike in awareness has to do with some legality issues. Well, illegality issues. Turns out, this tried and true vodka maybe sorta kinda happens to contain a blood thinner (coumarin to be exact). The US of A deemed that a no-no and banned all imports of the stuff. But now, Polmos Białystok, the only distillery legally allowed to make Żubrówka (Poland has some very strict rules about what is and what isn’t true to the alcohol’s origins), has come out with ZU, an alternative, LEGAL, version of the flavored vodka. They ditched the coumarin in favor for some less life-threatening ingredients. While ZU isn’t the original, it’s the closest us Americans will get to this delicious Polish vod.
Now, the question you’re most likely asking: why should I care?? Well, you skeptical little internet user you, ZU is one of a kind. It has actual flavor. Because it is a rye grain vodka that is infused with the aromatic plant Hierochloe odorata (bison grass), when you smell it, you smell the infusions instead of ethanol. It’s, wait for it, enjoyable. ZU is just the right combination of refreshing flavors, with notes of lavender, vanilla, and fresh cut bison grass. The flavors aren’t too sweet, but instead have just the right amount of kick to boost up your cocktail making game. Mix it with apple juice if you really want your mind to be blown. And best of all, it honors the few bison that still wander through the Białowieża Forest in the Polish countryside.