Tuesday, March 1, 2011


1/2 White Port (1 1/2 oz Ramos Pinto)
1/2 Vodka (1 1/2 oz Bak's Bison Grass)
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Last Tuesday, the Liquor Fairy visited and dropped off a sample bottle of Bak's Bison Grass Vodka. When we tasted it straight, Andrea got a sweet grassy flavor and I got notes that reminded me of cinnamon and tonka bean. While we are not big vodka fans, this stuff was actually interesting given the herbal and spice notes; on the other hand, vodka fans should not fear for these flavors are not as potent or as challenging as gins' or aquavits' botanicals are. Andrea was game to give it a try in a drink and we both knew what recipe was coming. The Clubland from the 1937 Café Royal Cocktail Book has been a recipe that we have been meaning to try, but we always deferred to another recipe idea instead. While the name is evocative of the discos of Manhattan in the 1980s or the more historically accurate explanation of the London area containing a large number of gentlemen's clubs, the drink was most likely named after the Clubland White Port that the original recipe calls for (along with Wolfschmidt as the vodka brand). With the bison grass-flavored (it is most likely a distillation product to remove the verboten coumarin molecules present in the traditionally infused spirit) vodka, there was enough momentum not to defer making this recipe any longer.
The Clubland smelled of the white port's grape and the Angostura's spice. Flavorwise, I was quite impressed at how well the Angostura Bitters complemented the bison grass vodka! The combination of the two proffered cinnamon on the sip with a bit of apple pie spices on the swallow. Andrea commented that this drink was not as insipid as she first feared; moreover, while it was not exceptionally dynamic of a drink, it was more dynamic than a Vodka Martini. I replied that I could definitely see why Jeff Morgenthaler put the Clubland as the vodka drink on his menu at Clyde Common in Portland, Oregon.

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