Bison grass vodka has been enjoyed in Poland and most other European countries for generations. But, it took several decades of sparring between U.S. regulators and would-be importers to get it here.
In 2007, Zubrowka Bison Grass Flavored Vodka was the first to be sold in the U.S., at a suggested retail price of $26.
Now, Bak's brand bison grass vodka is the latest to arrive on our shores. It is distilled from zubrowka, or bison grass, that grows in the fertile fields of eastern Poland which are populated by huge bison.
Folklore says hunters celebrated a bison kill with their vodka that had been flavored with bison grass, which they believed had nutrients that increased stamina and virility. Bak's includes an extract of bison grass.
“We are extremely pleased to bring a touch of Polish nobility to America. Our creation is set to redefine the flavored vodka category with its one-of-a-kind vitality and mystical characteristics. We’ve showcased the aphrodisiac qualities in specialty cocktails at renowned accounts such as Tavern on The Green, The Grand Central Oyster Bar, & City Crab to name a few," said Adam Bak, CEO of Adamba Imports International, sole U.S. importer of Bak's.
The triple-distilled, 82-proof potato vodka should shortly be available in most major U.S. markets, including New York, New Jersey, California, Illinois, Florida, Virginia and Washington DC.
Suggested retail price: $29 for the one-liter bottle.
It was widely believed that the U.S. Food & Drug Administration opposed bison grass vodka because it contained coumarin. As I reported back in '07:
"Coumarin is a chemical compound also known as benzopyrone. In certain concentrations it is highly toxic. It has been found in bison grass, tonka beans, vanilla extract and even cigarettes. Its scent, usually described as 'new-mown hay,' is a pleasant, sweet one which had led to its use in perfumes since the 1800s.
"The U.S. government has long had rigid restrictions -- but not an overall, outright ban -- on imported goods containing coumarin. Coumarin itself is used in medical products such as anti-coagulants.
"As restrictions have been eased in recent years on various imports, principally from India and South Korea, with no apparent ill effects, globally coumarin is being viewed with less suspicion.
"I checked with the Pesticide Action Network North America's PAN Pesticides Database, which says coumarin is not banned by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or by any government agency."
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