The trend may not have hit Toronto yet but in Los Angeles the cocktail sensation of the season has been seen in bars around town -- black drinks.
With names such as Black Mystique and Midnight Cosmopolitan, most of them owe their blackness to a spirit that's relatively new on the market, Blavod vodka. Black as tar in the bottle, the vodka looks very dark blue-green as it is poured, not unlike motor oil. As odorless as standard vodka, with a similar consistency, 80-proof Blavod has a vaguely herbal-medicinal aftertaste and a certain roughness.
Though its name suggests Transylvania, the vodka is actually distilled in England. Catechu, extracted from an Asian acacia tree, is responsible for the vodka's hue. Also known as cutch or black catechu, it's also used to tan leather.
Alternative-medicine advocates hail catechu as an astringent, antiseptic and mouthwash. The black vodka turns dark greenish when stirred into ice or certain juices; in some kinds of light, it even sort of glows. But turn down the lights and it's pretty dark black. Blavod layers nicely, sitting like a slab of asphalt atop or below liqueurs and mixers. The secret is to pour the black vodka very slowly over the other liquids to keep the layers separate.
Maybe we'll see this for Halloween next year?
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