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In a world being overtaken by sameness, i.e. Walmart, McDonalds, Starbucks, etc., it's nice to know that regional producers are alive and kicking. I heard about Oregon-based Sub Rosa Spirits and their infused vodkas a few months ago, right before a trip to the Pacific Northwest. Their distillery makes two culinary-inspired infusions: Tarragon Vodka and Saffron Vodka. Produced one batch at a time, each bottle is hand stamped with the year produced and the batch number.
I snagged a bottle of the saffron version in Portland before heading out to the coast and an amazing beach-front rental with some girlfriends. For our cocktail hour post hot-tub and pre-dinner, we took inspiration from the traditional Moscow Mule, which combines vodka with ginger beer, lime juice and simple syrup. My Michigander friends were excited to find Vernor's ginger ale at the local grocery store - surprise! - so all we needed was a bit of sugar and some limes. The flavor of this cocktail is pretty unusual. It's refreshing, spicy and tart. The saffron flavor comes through, but with a hint of the other spices Sub Rosa uses for this blend, like toasted cumin and coriander.
Sub Rosa is currently only available in a few western states, Chicago and Washington, D.C. Internet orders are available from a few distributors, but expect to pay for the privilege. Doesn't that just make it extra special though?
The Madrid Mule
Substitute ginger beer for the Vernor's if necessary.
1 1/2 oz. Sub Rosa Saffron Vodka
1/2 tsp. simple syrup
1/2 oz. fresh lime juice
Vernor's Ginger Ale
lime wedge or mint sprig for garnish
Combine vodka, simple syrup and lime juice in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake it up. Strain over ice in highball glass and top with ginger ale. Garnish with lime or mint.