This Sh*t's Delicious

Exploring the world through cocktails, shit hole restaurants, and UrbanAg

A Cocktail-a-Day #13: Zubtonic (vodka + tonic) @kenterv

Another late day. I was actually pretty tired today – my hectic schedule is catching up with me. Working on another project of mine called AudioMob. It’s basically a 40 min. long choreographed flash mob that is a mix of Simon Says and Jane’s Walk. Imagine 100s of people downloading the same mp3. At a pre-determined time and location, everyone hits ‘Play’ and out comes a mix of music and instruction which directs people to go from place to place while doing cool, crazy things along the way! It was directly inspired by The mp3 Experiment that was created by Improv Everywhere. These guys are the bomb.

ImprovEverywhere’s events pull in 1000s of people. Ours aren’t that ambitious, but it’s still lots of fun to see people engaged and having fun and interacting with their city in new ways. This is going to be 3rd year of Audiomob and is going to be the most ambitious. Here’s our video from AudioMobYYC #1:

This year’s Audiomob takes place on July 20th. RSVP on our Facebook page if you are interested in coming!

Today’s recipe was inspired by a friend of mine who recently came back from a trip to Japan. Apparently, he had this great high ball at a random hostel that was made from Zubrowka and tonic. I love gin + tonic so couldn’t pass up the opportunity to experiment with a classic. Here’s the recipe:

2 oz. Zubrowka vodka (Polish bison grass flavoured vodka)

3/4 oz. fresh lime juice

Tonic water


In a Collins glass, mix the vodka and lime juice over ice. Top up with tonic water and and mix using a bar spoon. Serve with a slice of lime (optional).


I love this drink. The natural sweetness of tonic water, the tartness of lime juice and the grassy flavour of the vodka combine really well to provide a refreshing drink. It definitely ends on a slight bitter and medicinal note, but nothing that’s unpleasant. Kinda like a lemonade, but having more complexity. I don’t think straight unflavoured vodka would work well as it would just taste like tonic and lime juice.

Zubrowka is traditionally served with apple juice. Apparently, it can also be served with vanilla ice cream (!) and ginger, both of which I have at home!

Zubrowka is an interesting vodka. This rye vodka (40% ABV) has a grassy, almost medicinal flavour, thanks to the bison grass. The medicinal flavour is a result of the way the bison grass flavour is extracted. I am not sure of the exact industrial process, but tinctures are essentially made by leaving the herbs to stand in alcohol for 2-3 weeks.

The name actually is derived from the root word zubr, the Polish and Belarusian word for the bison found in the Białowieża Forest that straddles the border of Belarus and Poland. The grass is a favourite of the bison who thrive in the area.

Funnily enough, Zubrowka is actually NOT available in the US as:

"…the tincture of bison grass found in Żubrówka is prohibited as a food additive by the Food and Drug Administration because it contains coumarin, which showed hepatotoxic effects in rats and has a blood thinning effect." {Source: Wikipedia}

Canadians have no such problems. We like out liver damage in all forms. It is freely available, just like Absinthe.

Zubrowka is traditionally served with apple juice. Apparently, it can also be served with vanilla ice cream (!) and ginger, both of which I have at home! I think next time, I am going to try and rim the glass with kosher salt and muddle fresh lime to release more of the citrus oils.

Happy drinking!

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