Handle The Proof: Blavod

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There's a good reason Blavod is hard to find--besides the fact that it's only purpose in life seems to be gimmick martinis and seasonal (meaning Halloween) cocktails: while in taste it compares well to Smirnoff and other modest brands, the bottle I found at Pogo's cost a grand total of $37.88, including tax.

Yes, I know you pay a little extra at Pogo's for the real estate. But I called four or five other stores before chancing on the Inwood and Lovers institution.

If you haven't caught on, Blavod is a black vodka, its hue resembling watered down squid ink. In fact, rumor has it that the color comes from a squirt of the natural smokescreen...although the company insists it is derived from bark of the catechu, a tree native to Southeast Asia long used to create dye.

Of course, the bottle does mention catechu and "natural" color...

There is at least one other misconception. When the product came on the market several years ago, a bartender at the now defunct Martini Ranch told me every time he passed out a sample, the recipient would say "wow, that's strong."

Blavod is, of course, no stronger in alcohol content than mainstream brands. And the vodka's ominous visual appeal hardly translates in flavor.

Beyond the expected sting of an 80-proof spirit, there's a faint floral undertone--like sweet twine, if such a thing existed. On the nose it presents a rougher character, with hints of sweetgum and varnish lurking in the mix.

The company--an English firm which also markets Hpnotiq and Mickey Finn's--claims the catechu coloring in no way affects the flavor. I'll admit that visual perception is part of the make up when taste is translated to the brain, so it may be true. On the other hand, in a blind comparison I still picked up on the same notes.

So it's hardly odorless or tasteless. And it's definitely not colorless.

It may, however, be pointless again after tomorrow.

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