ZU Bison Grass Flavored Vodka is a take on Zubrowka, which is the generic Polish term for vodkas made with bison grass. The FDA bars the import of authentic Zubrowka, as it contains a property called coumarin, which in high doses can be toxic. Hence ZU, a bison grass “flavored” vodka for the U.S. market.
Distilled from rye grains, ZU is then infused with plant extracts that mimic the flavors of real bison grass. Unlike most vodkas which are crystal clear, ZU is a pale yellow color. This could be partly due to the grass and herb extracts, or due to the addition of Yellow #5, per the label.
Beneath a light layer of alcohol, ZU has pleasant aromas of vanilla, citrus and fresh grass. Take a sip and things get more interesting, as the flavor – well, it’s sort of like pistachio ice cream. Behind that, there’s more sweet vanilla and some light notes of lemon. Unlike many vodkas, which have a watery mouth feel, ZU is very rich and creamy on the palate.
In Poland, Zubrowka is often mixed with apple juice. Do the same with ZU, and it’s quite good. Two parts apple juice to one part ZU seems to work well. Moving beyond the apple juice, ZU’s rich flavor makes it an interesting addition to cocktails, because while vodka is typically muted in drinks, this spirit has enough flavor to holds its own. It certainly won’t replace gin in a traditional gin cocktail, but it will stand up in many fruit-forward drinks, like a simple strawberry smash (ZU, muddled strawberry, lemon juice, sugar).
– 40% Alcohol by Volume