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Poland’s Gift to Cocktails


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In Poland there is an ancient and protected forest, and in parts of this forest there are free-roaming bison. In this forest also grows a sweet grass that the bison are said to munch on. It is called, not surprisingly, bison grass.

For the last 500 years or so, Polish people have been using this grass to flavor vodka. It is called, not surprisingly, bison grass vodka. In Polish it is known as Zubrowka.

In the US, however, the Zubrowka brand is known as ZU. Although it comes from the same manufacturers and tastes nearly the same, the recipe is different in order to avoid a naturally-occurring chemical from the bison grass that is prohibited as a food additive in the States. The signature of this brand is the blade of (chemically-neutral) bison grass in each bottle.

ZU and Zubrowka taste of jasmine and caramel and hay, and when they are added to apple juice the drink tastes like apple pie. Not surprisingly, the drink is known as Szarlotka, meaning “apple pie.” Sometimes you’ll see the drink called the Polish Kiss or the Frisky Bison.

No matter what you call it, it’s a simple two-ingredient drink that’s easy as pie to make.


1.5 fl. oz. ZU bison grass vodka
5 fl. oz. (to taste) apple juice (unfiltered apple juice is best)

Add ingredients to an ice-filled highball glass and enjoy.


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