Good news– contrary to the nay-saying press and industry buffs who were constantly hinting that the ‘Organic Spirits Market’ is just a passing fad we are finding that now more than ever are brand new, organically produced and hand-crafted products are becoming available than ever before. My Saf Bar and Restaurant in London is lucky enough to be one of the few that gets to try these great products out and I’ve been blessed on a recent trip to the US to be able to try some fantastic products. Since many spirits buff don’t focus on organics as a big part of their collection I’ve been trying to champion these great products and have even been asked to compile a list of all the organics into a Difford-esque review.
One of my favourite new products in this organic-spirits-boom of late I’ve would have to be the venerable Prairie Organic Vodka. Hailing from the ultra-natural Heartland of Minnesota, Prairie offers a great example of what the best in organic spirits can be. Unlike the (equally exquisite) Square One Organic Vodka made from organic rye, Prairie is a corn-based spirit made from #2 yellow corn and without the dubious ‘organic representation’ of a certain -ahem- other ‘RAINed’ upon spirit, has fully organic and kosher certifications. They even work with the farmers directly to assure top quality for each bottle. Mazel Tov!
Other initiatives such as the use of every single bit of by-product from the corn and a revolutionary approach to business (here family owned Ed Philips & Sons who makes Prairie uses a profit sharing scheme for all employees and fair trade practices throughout) that reminds me of the forward-thinking of PurSip fan and Whole Foods founder John Mackey (PS- Whole Foods just recently had a regional meeting in Austin which I did the drinks for:
2 ounces Albelha Organic Cachaca
5-6 1-inch cubes of Seedless Watermelon
1 1/2 lime
2 bar spoons (a little less than a tablespoon) organic brown sugar
3 basil leaves
Shake all well together and empty all contents into an Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with a slim piece of watermelon peel
but I digress….
back to Prairie my favourite thing about it (and there’s a lot–especially their sleek packaging and ad campaign) is the taste. The rich slightly melon-y character of the vodka is ultra-refreshing and provides a big contrast to a richer ‘mealy’ grain based vodka. This also means it mixes perfectly for all my favourite summertime cocktails. Here’s a few I’ve been slinging since trying Prairie:
25ml Hibiscus-infused Prairie Vodka*
15 ml Elderflower (Chase makes a great one in the UK or use St. Germain)
15 ml Creme de Violette (The Bitter Truth just launched a stunning one or use Rothman and Winter)
Dash of Orange Flower Water (Bitter Truth all the Way)
Rose Champagne (I use Fleury)
Stir the liquor. Strain. Top with Champagne. Garnish with a flower.
*just seep about 100 grams of dried hibiscus flowers in a bottle–you can’t over infuse
Pear, Lime and Thyme
40 mls Prairie Organic Vodka
20 mls Lime Juice
10 mls Thyme Simple Syrup
40 mls Pear Juice
Splash of Soda
Shake all ingredients except the soda and strain over fresh ice. Garnish with a Thyme sprig.
Prairie and the Green Fairy
50 mls Prairie Organic Vodka
10 mls Maraschino (Maraska)
5 mls Absinthe (La Clandestine)
25 mls fresh ruby red grapefruit juice
20 mls Spicy Rhubarb Syrup (in a medium saucepan bring 2 cups diced rhubarb and 1 part sugar/1 part water to a boil. Cover and simmer on low heat until the rhubarb breaks down. Remove and stir in 1 teaspoon of fresh grated ginger and 1 tablespoon ground coriander. Strain and store in a glass container.)
15 mls fresh lime juice.
Shake all ingredients and strain over fresh ice. Garnish with a Thyme sprig.
Let me know your thoughts if you try any of these out or send me over some other recipes you may come up with using the Prairie! That’s it for now!!