If spirits are about flavor, then where does vodka fit in?
By definition, vodka is a colorless, odorless, tasteless spirit. Not much culinary contribution in that! But Mike Sherwood, owner and distiller at Portland’s Sub Rosa Spirits, has brought his particular culinary sensibility to the creation of herb-infused vodkas.
“I’m a foodie; I’m driven by food,” says Sherwood, who has worked as a winemaker and craft beer executive before becoming a distiller. “With spirits there is an almost unlimited range of flavors you can bring to the table.”
Sherwood started Sub Rosa Spirits with the idea of creating herb-infused vodkas that reflected his own tastes. “Fruit infusions have been popular for years, and I always wondered why culinary flavors weren’t done as much.” Experimenting with various herbs, he settled on two tastes in particular: tarragon and saffron.
For his Saffron Flavored Vodka, Sherwood uses eight organic herbs and spices—including saffron, the world’s most expensive. The naturally yellow-tinged vodka is complex in flavor, with notes of toasted cumin, lemony coriander, saffron, and a touch of orange peel and ginger.
The Tarragon Flavored Vodka also uses a combination of organic herbs and spices. The naturally green-hued spirit delivers tarragon and fennel aromas, and offers light notes of mint and
pepper on the palate.
One of Sherwood’s favorite pairings is salmon tartare with crème fraîche and a cocktail created by Oregon bartender Jeffrey Morgenthaler, called the “French Twist.”
Recipe: French Twist
Summary: Recipe courtesy of Jeffrey Morgenthaler
- 2 ounces Sub Rosa Tarragon Flavored Vodka
- ½ to ¾ oz. Yellow Chartreuse
- Lemon peel
- Rub the inside of an 8–ounce rocks glass with the lemon peel.
- In a second mixing glass, stir the peel with cracked ice.
- Then add the vodka and Chartreuse.
- Strain into the rocks glass and serve.
Number of servings (yield): 1