Home for the Hoosiers

Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Homestead Martini

Thursday, November 26, 2009
Hoosier Cocktail

Wednesday night was Thanksgiving night in my house – my kids were with their Dad this year for the official turkey day (we share custody and split the holidays year by year), my separated-but-still-married boyfriend had family in town, and my cousins were having dinner with their daughter.  So I decided to ameliorate the feeling of “poor pitiful me” on Thursday by having a dinner on Wednesday night with turkey and the trimmings.  Wasn’t thrilled with how everything came out, for starters, remind me not to get anything besides a Butterball turkey in the future.  They really are the best and I know the turkey is going to turn out delicious no matter how much or how little effort I put into it, unless I set it on fire or something.  But everyone had a good time, which is what matters.  I was a bit nervous because this was the first time my boyfriend was meeting my cousins.  I call them both my cousins, they are actually my second cousin Dick and his wife, Aileen.  My kids know them as Nana and Papa, the closest thing to maternal grandparents they have (my parents are both deceased).  Dick was my Mom’s first cousin – his branch of the family tree seems relatively sane, much more than I can say for my Mom’s side.  It always makes me smile when Dick will tell me that the first time he heard me talk, he was happy that someone else in the family had a voice as deep as his!  He’s right … I do.  Telemarketers almost inevitably call me “sir” on the phone.  I was soooo tempted the other day when one asked me if Mr. or Mrs. was here, to pose as my ex-husband and then chew him out for daring to mention that bitch’s name (me) in the same breath, but that seemed a little extreme.  Fun, though.

Anyway, as usual, I digress.  Because of all the wine consumed on Wednesday, there was no martini that evening, so I sandwiched Wednesday with the Homestead and the Hoosier cocktails.  I’m guessing the Hoosier must get its name from the Hoosier state, Indiana, and the primary ingredient, buffalo grass vodka – I’m no expert on bison but I think the buffalo used to roam in Indiana, among many other states.  So we’ll go with that.  I don’t know if Hierochloe odorata or Anthoxanthum nitens (buffalo or bison grass) grows in Indiana.  My bottle of  Bison Grass vodka, or  Żubrówka, comes from Poland, so I think I’m going to go with my original analogy.  As for the Homestead Martini’s origins – no clue.  It is 6 parts gin, 2 parts sweet vermouth, and an orange twist for garnish.  The same as Sue’s Gypsy, except with less gin to the same amount of sweet vermouth. 

The Homestead was okay.  Just okay.  I might have liked the Gypsy better, with more gin to it.  This was a little too much sweet vermouth for my liking, but overall I do like the gin and sweet vermouth combo, just maybe half as much vermouth would have been good.  The orange twist is a nice touch and the drink has a lovely honey-gold shade to it, but in my book it’s only a three star drink.

Thursday night, my brother came over and made his famous vegetarian (beans and stuff) tostados for dinner and we had Negro Modelo beer with those, so I had my martini much later, after my kids got back from Dad’s house and we all watched “Up” again together.  The Hoosier Cocktail is 4 parts buffalo grass vodka, 2 parts light rum, 1 part dry vermouth.  I can’t say as I cared for it on first sip (or second or third, for that matter) but it grows on you.  I think I’m still getting used to the buffalo grass vodka’s taste, to be honest, which makes this a very different drink than it would be with just straight (wheat-distilled) vodka.   Żubrówka is distilled from rye and flavored with vanilla grass or sweet grass (both varieties of “buffalo” or “bison” grass), which, I learned after a bit of research, derives its scent of newly-mown hay from coumarin, which is also present in tonka bean, often used in perfumes.  A handy chemical compound, coumarin is also used in warfarin, a well-known anticoagulant.  Also, according to Wikipedia, “Coumarin has appetite-suppressing properties, suggesting its widespread occurrence in plants, especially grasses, is because of its effect of reducing the impact of grazing animals.”

Lose Weight, Feel Great - Just Don't Ask Your Liver

Alas, I didn’t get too far along the line of thinking, “drink more bison grass vodka, lose weight” before reading about the toxic properties of coumarin on the liver and kidneys and how effective it is as a rat poison.  Okay, strike that idea.  Back to the drink.  I did like it more than the Homestead, so I will give it a 3.25 star rating, but I think it just wasn’t quite my thing.  I should try a straight, chilled sip of the  Żubrówka solo to see what I think of it.  I’ll report back on that after I’ve done it.  In the meantime, I think I just like saying “Żubrówka” (thanks to that handy pronunciation thing in Wikipedia), kind of gives me the chills the way the hyenas feel in The Lion King when they hear the name “Mufasa”.  🙂 

Perhaps my worries over liver toxicity or weight reduction are unnecessary – a little further reading on Żubrówka gave me this: “Because bison grass contains the toxic compound coumarin, which is prohibited as a food additive by the Food and Drug Administration, importing of Żubrówka into the United States was banned in 1978 by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.”  Hmm.  Then how is it I happen to have a bottle in my freezer from BevMo?  It must use an artificial derivative of coumarin or something.  Talk about knowing how to suck the fun out of something, that’s government regulation for you.  Yes, I’m kidding.  A little, anyway.  Sometimes I wonder if we would have more creative writers and poets around if people still drank (the poisonous version of) absinthe. 

Cheers,
Cathy

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~ by rachelroust on November 28, 2009.

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