Wyborowa is a popular Polish vodka brand which was acquired by Pernod Ricard in the 1990s. Last year, they decided to unleash a number of flavoured vodkas on the market – especially in the US – under the name Oddka. To help them get their rather different flavourings recognized among all the others, they created the brand around the eccentric and witty fictional character Wit Oddoski. I’m not completely convinced, even though I quite like the nonsensical, tongue-in-cheek concept. Anyway, I’ve had a few of the flavours to play around with for quite some time, but haven’t really been able to figure them out until now – and first to get a proper review is Fresh Cut Grass.
I guess that these products are mainly meant to be had as shots, directly from the freezer, but that’s not really my thing so I tried it in room temperature instead. Nose: Initially, an overwhelming aroma of, well, fresh cut grass – at least that’s what the name of the product tricks you into thinking. It’s earthy with lots of lemongrass, pickle brine and alcohol, not bad but not entirely pleasant either. Mouth: Somewhat more subtle than the nose, it’s surprisingly sweet with an instant alcohol burn, which fades out into a somewhat peppery and savoury, slighty bitter earthiness reminding me of lemongrass and pickled cucumber. Definitely not something to sip on, I think it’s safe to say that it should be devoured ice cold and quickly – or maybe in a cocktail?
I was encouraged to try out the signature drink Windy Sling (60 ml Oddka Fresh Cut Grass, 30 ml fresh lemon juice, 22 ml simple syrup, 15 ml vinegar syrup (1 part white wine vinegar, 2 parts caster sugar, 3 parts water), 8 mint leaves, soda water – Shake all ingredients except soda water with ice and strain into a highball glass with cubed ice. Garnish with mint and thin slices of cucumber. Top with soda water) – and it’s actually not that bad! All ingredients work surprisingly well together, the freshness of the cucumber and mint in combination with the tartness of the lemon smoothens the otherwise rather aggressive vodka.
Still, I wasn’t sure if Oddka should be used as the base spirit – so I decided to come up with some recipes on my own. First, the Improved Debacle (45 ml Beefeater Gin, 15 ml Oddka Fresh Cut Grass, 2-3 dashes The Bitter Truth Celery Bitters, 5 ml spruce shoot syrup, 15 ml Tropicana cloudy apple juice – stir gin, Oddka and bitters with ice, pour into ice-filled Old Fashioned-glass and float apple juice, garnish with cucumber slice) which is based on Dick Bradsell’s Treacle and also inspired by the Polish tradition of mixing Żubrówka bison grass vodka with apple juice. In my opinion, all these green components really complement each other, and by using just the right amount of Oddka you get its character without overpowering the drink.
Last but not least I made a Grassy Knoll (40 ml Beefeater gin, 20 ml Oddka Fresh Cut Grass, 30 ml fresh lemon, 15 ml St-Germain, 10 ml simple syrup, soda water – Shake all ingredients except soda water, strain into an ice-filled highball glass, top with soda and garnish with a mint sprig and lemon slice) – and while not completely different from the Windy Sling above, I definitely think that using Oddka in combination with gin is better than the Oddka alone – and the delicate sweetness of the elderflower also helps to make this drink well balanced and a perfect thirst quencher for a hot summer day.