Black will always be the color that defines style and sophistication and it has a place in the world of spirits as well. With that in mind, it's not surprising that someone would devise a way to add that color to vodka, which is a famously clear liquor. That's exactly what happened with Blavod.
Known as "the original black vodka," it tastes just like regular vodka but will instantly turn every cocktail it touches into a dark, mysterious drink. It's a lot of fun when you want to create eerie Halloween cocktails, it quickly creates a black martini, and can be somewhat elusive at times.
How It's Made
Blavod is an interesting fixture in the vodka world. It is owned by the British spirits producer, Distil PLC, who is also associated with Blackwoods Gin. Blavod doesn't get the marketing hype of other vodkas, though, and it seems to come and go from the market. It appears most often in liquor stores right around Halloween.
Though there is some mystery to Blavod, we do know how it gets that deep black color. The vodka begins just like any other: specifically, it is a triple-distilled, double-filtered grain vodka. Its color comes from an infusion of black catechu bark. Native to Asia, the tree (also known as acacia catechu) is sourced for all sorts of uses, including as a food additive and natural dye.
Blavod is bottled at 40 percent alcohol by volume (80 proof) (ABV, 80 proof). In recent years, at least the U.K. version was dropped to 37.5 percent ABV (75 proof).
As vodka goes Blavod is a nice premium brand. It can be defined on its own without the branding of "The Black Vodka" and can stand against many of the non-colored vodkas on the market.
Knowing that the hue is a little off the wall has the tendency to change people's perception of its actual taste. Some who have tried Blavod in a straight taste test noted a subtle, yet distinct, flavor undertone to Blavod. However, when blindfolded those same people are usually not able to distinguish between Blavod and a clear vodka of equal quality.
You may, however, notice that there is an underlying herbal finish not found in most clear vodkas. Blavod is an extremely smooth vodka with clean undertones of dark berries and the ever-so-slight hint of cloves and anise. This heady spirit emits an intriguing sweet citrus, woody, and flowery aroma that will entice you to have a sip.
Admittedly, for its premium taste and price tag, Blavod is most often used in gimmicky drinks. Whenever you want to create the blackest of cocktails or quick Halloween-themed cocktails that never fail to be the talk of the party, have a bottle of Blavod on hand. You can use it in any vodka drink to create a little extra atmosphere or try it in one of the many recipes created specifically for it.
On the martini front, you'll find that pouring Blavod into a regular vodka martini produces a richer, truer black than black martinis that try to combine other colored ingredients. It also makes a splash in drinks like the black and gold martini where the color is accented with Goldschläger's sparkling gold flakes.
The fun doesn't stop at martinis, though. In the black magic, Blavod gives a dark twist to a boozy rendition of the Shirley Temple. And, in the black rose, it's paired with Tequila Rose for a pretty pink shooter with a black apparition swirling around inside.
One of the best qualities of Blavod is its ability to create wonderful layers in a drink. In the black widow, for instance, a shot of Blavod floats on top of cranberry juice. The same can be done with orange juice to create a layered October screwdriver. These two common vodka cocktails are testaments to the vodka's dexterity to turn a common drink into a ghoulishly stylin' libation.
Blavod can be hard to find and it seems to be getting more difficult with each passing year. You may come across other black vodkas from time to time and they can definitely be used as a Blavod substitute. Some may have additional flavors and others may not, depending on how the coloring is added.
You can also try making your own black vodka. It's an incredibly simple trick that relies on a precise combination of food coloring. While it does settle and is not the perfect black found in Blavod, it works long enough for you to enjoy the drink. The best part of this hack is that you can use any vodka you want in those same funky cocktails.