Invest in the red gold: Oké Vodka
Saffron. This unique product inspired the recently launched Oké Vodka.
This unique colouring and flavouring agent has an unusual rich history. It has been used for over 3 millenniums in Persian cultivation and cooking. Saffron is won by drying the stigmas of the Crocus Sativus, commonly known as the “saffron crocus”. It does not exist in the wild as it is incapable of reproducing without human interaction!
It is believed the flower was created by man over 3,5 millenia ago from the so called Crocus Cartwrightianus that originated on Crete and has emerged through plant breeding. The flower loves warm climates and extreme sun exposure. Currently, Iran produces 90% of all saffron, the flower takes about 8 months to mature.
Saffron contains over 150 compounds of which many are extremely volatile. It gets its typical taste from drying due to a particular molecule breaking free by heat called a free safranical molecule. Although molecule levels can be tested in a lab, most saffron traders still believe in the century old practise of determing the quality by hand, smelling and observing rather than testing it in a laboratory!
After drying it deteriorates rapidly due to oxidation and fluctuations in PH levels. It’s therefore important to be used freshly dried. It is one of the most precious materials per gram in the world, giving it its nickname “red gold”.
Cue Dutch cleverness
Due to its volatile nature and high cost, it comes to no surprise the Entrepreneurial Dutch are active in the trading of this red gold. Also, because of these qualities it makes perfect sense to be infused in alcohol instead of using it fresh, creating a unique flavour profile!
Welcome to the family Oké Vodka
Oké Vodka is produced in the Netherlands, in Lelystad to be exact by the Melchers group. This group has been distilling and brewing for over 125 years! If this distillery does not ring a bell to bartenders it is because they usually produce for private labels marketed in other continents. So it is entirely possible you have already drank some of their products without knowing it. It is independent family owned and produces almost all forms of spirit known to man.
Time for a drink
The drink I am making is one of their Perfect Serves:
Saffron & Sour honey
35 ml Oké Vodka Saffron
20 ml lime juice
10 ml honey (i used acacia but feel free to experiment)
2 mint leafs
Top up ginger ale
Garnish: mint leaf and thyme.
Method: Put all ingredients in the shaker except for the ginger ale. Add the honey and stir until it’s dissolved. Shake hard with ice cubes and fine strain. Top up with chilled ginger ale and give a light stir. Garnish and enjoy!
This drink is a typical “mojito-killer”, refreshing and rich. If you would like to taste Oké Vodka for yourself come by Perfect Serve Barshow Amsterdam on 23th and 24th of May in the WesterLiefde and WesterUnie in Westerpark from 12.00-19.00 where they will be present and can answer all questions.
Words by Timo Janse
Pictures by Kevin Kroon