Dhiman Chattopadhyay March 16, 2008
Its dark, titillates the senses and raises your spirits to new heights. Sit back and enjoy the magic of black vodka.An ad for a recently launched black vodka brand in a British men’s magazine claims: “We can’t bring back the Czars, but we can bring back their style”. Black vodka is truly royal—and to sip it, you need finesse as well.
Vodka by definition is supposed to be a colourless drink. But one of the most talked about varieties of this spirit is the famed black vodka. Yes, it does look a bit black, but believe us, not only will a glass or two of this vodka lift everyone’s spirits at a party—you’ll also score a few points for pointing out its ‘spiritual qualities’ to your friends.
The Drink: From a distance, this vodka stands out because of its unique colour. Its composition varies by manufacturer. Some colour the vodka without adding any flavour, while others add flavours and change the colour for additional effect. But flavoured or unflavoured, black vodka adds style and sophistication to any occasion.
What goes into it: Well-known makers of black vodka like Blavod use black catechu as a colouring agent. Catechu is an extract from the Acacia shrub, which is distilled by boiling the wood in water and evaporating the resultant brew. Catechu is actually an astringent that is used in some types of medicine. It’s also found in breathfresheners. Some makers of black vodka may also use Humines—a naturally occurring organic polymer—to colour the product.
This British black vodka trades on its distinctive colour and clean taste. You might just feel there’s a herbal or medicinal tang to the vodka’s finish. But overall, it’s a smooth drink with nice notes of cloves and dark berries.
You may not have heard of this Czech drink, where the best grains and specially treated water are used to distil the product. Humines are added to colour the drink.
This is a triple-distilled and charcoal-filtered vodka, which is flavoured with wild berries. Eristoff vodka has obtained its taste and aroma from a 19th century recipe of Mikolaj Eristoff, the founder of the firm.
Anyone who has been to Sweden knows about Znaps, a pure-grain vodka. The Black Jack, as it’s called, is a blend of vodka and black licorice.
MIX IT RIGHT
If you don’t fancy your vodka straight, you can opt for some amazing cocktails, instead. Black vodka is versatile and can turn any vodka cocktail into a heady new experience.
Black Martini: Try this sleek black Martini with a splash of vermouth. The classic Martini should be made with unflavoured black vodka.
Black Widow: Pour a large peg (60 ml) of black vodka and top it up with Red Bull or cranberry juice. If made properly, the vodka will float on top of the energy drink or juice. It looks awesome this way, but you would be better advised to stir this concoction before sipping it.
Black & Blue: Pour yourself half a glass of chilled Blue Curacao. Then, slowly pour a large peg of black vodka on top. Watch the distinct layers of midnight blue and black cast a spell on this cocktail. Be warned: it may hit you like a truck.
Try this: Drop a sugar cube, 3 lemon wedges and 2 sprigs of mint into a mixing glass. Now, slowly measure out and pour 50 ml of black vodka into the mixer. Add ice and shake well. Next, strain it into a highball glass (which should also have a few cubes of ice). Top it up with 30 ml of ginger ale. Garnish with a mint sprig, if you have an eye for beauty. Sip. Thank us.
Why it’s different
Frankly, catechu is used only for the colour. But in any case, black vodka tastes more of minerals and is fuller bodied compared to the regular vodka. It’s a bit sticky on your palate and the taste lingers longer. Unlike regular vodka, where the tonic is poured at the end, it’s best to pour the black vodka last while preparing any cocktail. The colour effect is fabulous.
Amit Mehta, Senior Captain, Aura -The Vodka Bar, The Claridges, Delhi