Shaker Two here.
One of the things I have discovered about myself as I add more years to my age and add more drinks to my “been there and tried that” roster is that I am somewhat jaded when I head out to eat. More often then not, I will stick with wine or a dirty martini – sometimes a Parisian if the bar has the holy trinity of ingredients – and not venture too far out of that realm. Shocking since I am one of the two Shakers who extol the virtues and wonders of martinis? Perhaps. Though over the years, I have discovered that many of the martinis in restaurants fall into a few main categories: boring, classic, overly sweet, dessert and way over the top.
I steer clear of massively fruity blends since they tend to leave the palate feeling like you just painted it with fruit puree. I also usually stay clear of apple martinis since many bars do not use apple infused vodka, but rather rely on the artificial tasting flavored vodkas or the Jolly Rancher exuding Pucker for the “apple.”
Close minded? You bet. Especially when many martinis in the El Lay area can run $12-$15 a pop. While I am not hesitant to send back a foul drink, I just find I haven’t the patience to go through the hassle.
There is a reason for the tangent I just went on, I swear.
So, that all being said, I was having a birthday dinner with some dear friends at a scrumptious Polish restaurant in Santa Monica called Warsawa. As we perused the menu, I noticed tray after tray of martinis going by and they looked all to be the same. Interesting. They were also all going to different tables. Even more interesting.
I asked our server what it was and he said it was their apple martini. Hrm.
He then went on to recommend it and mentioned it was made with Zubrowka, a bison grass vodka from Poland. This piqued my interest since my brother had just recommended the same vodka out of the blue (he is not normally a vodka drinker.)
Ok, I’ll bite. “How about a round of apple martinis?” our server smiled knowingly and went off to place the order.
Bison Grass vodka. Interesting. I had my fingers crossed it did not taste like one of those “freshly mowed lawn” wheat grass shots.
The drinks arrived and I took my first sip. YUM! It was subtle, slightly sweet with some deeper notes of some other flavors that were hard to pin down. Our waiter let us in on the ingredients: bison grass vodka, sparkling apple cider and a bit of lemon juice, garnished with an apple slice.
Needless to say, we consumed a few rounds of this lovely concoction and I was sold.
Later, I took the bottle up to the Balcony Bar and let Shaker Two have a taste, this time chilled and straight up. It is lovely even standing along. Smooth with subtle hints of a few different flavors, but nothing cloying and certainly no freshly cut lawn elements. It is also the most popular flavored vodka in Poland
I recommend checking this stuff out if you can find it. Decent price point and a tasty beverage with or without the sparkling apple cider.