Sour Grapes (Electro, Elektra revisited)

Today’s taste is SOUR! Not your usual citrus juice, but something more serious… rowanberries!

I live in Finland, a country where rowan trees are commonplace… Wikipedia tells us that European rowan is found in most of Europe and Northern Asia… I don’t know about eg. North American rowan’s berries’ suitability for this purpose. For those unfortunates who don’t have rowans growing in their neighbouring forest… next time I’ll use more “universal” ingredients.

I’m aware that there’s a rowan-flavoured vodka in Poland, Jarzebiak; Czechs have something called jerabinka; Austrians have Vogelbeerschnapps… all of them distilled spirits with rowan flavour; unfortunately I’ve never had a chance to taste any of them so I can’t tell you if they work fine with the following cocktails.



Let’s start with a disclaimer… I’ve used my whole life eating rowan jelly, and all sorts of foods utilizing those delicious berries. Now, when I’m about to give out instructions for spicing your vodka with them, I should check out what internet says about the subject…

European rowan (Sorbus aucuparia) is the tree I’m referring in this post (and only one I’m personally familiar with): there are other rowan species around, but I don’t have a slightest clue about their berries’ pssible toxicity etc., please do your own research about your local trees.

Collect the berries in the autumn, after the first frost (before waxwings devour them ;P), or just collect them when ripe and place them in your freezer. This cuts down the sourness factor (a bit)… and “reduces the amount of parasorbic acid, which can cause indigestion and can lead to kidney damage”.

?!?WOW?!? It’s a good thing I didn’t know about those side effects when I was a kid, when we truth-or-dared each other to eat one more handful of raw rowanberries…well, our stomachs hurted a bit afterwards, that was part of the game… but no problem with my kidneys so far (doctor harps about alcohol and tobacco, though ;P )…

But let’s not fool around… so there is a potentially harmful element in the berries, by freezing or boiling the berries we can turn parasorbic acid into sorbic acid, which you probably eat every day if you put even a tiniest amount of processed food in your mouth: sorbic acid is commonly used as a food preservative.

But no boiling, just freeze them. Then, put some of them in a vodka and wait…



“The potency” of berries (how much sour taste they give out) seems to vary from tree to tree. After tasting one berry, grinning, you’ll probably put few berries into the bottle and wait for the week: I’ve never tasted anything with just couple of sad berries, even after two weeks…

My method: pour in a lot of berries (as pictured) and check the taste every day… it looks to me that good rule of thumb is no matter how much berries you use, the moment the vodka gets a faint red tint (as pictured) the taste is right. Remove the berries and prepare yourself for the most wicked sour cocktails you’ve ever had 😀




1 part rowanberry vodka

1 to 2 parts orange juice

Build into a suitable glass, add ice and garnish with orange wedge. To keep up with good ol’ colour theme, add green cocktail cherry (it also offers some sweet relief after finishing the drink).

So it’s a Screwdriver… but a Screwdriver you’ve never tried! Orange juice balances rowanberry nicely, still adding its own sourness to the mix. It’s vile 😀

I don’t know about you but rowanberry sourness kinda “numbs” my tongue…that’s why I use it represent Electro: tingling sensation is (sort of) a mild version of electric shock.

Trying to create satisfying cocktail for Maxwell Dillon, I tried kwazillion ideas and none of them worked out…until now. My take on another electric superhero, Black Lightning, uses a little different approach.

If you approve the basic idea of rowanberry-screwdriver but it’s just too much, turn it into a rowanberry-Harvey Wallbanger: 3 parts rowanberry vodka, dash or two (or 1 part) of Galliano and 3 to 6 six parts orange juice. Let’s call it “Electro (Max Dillon)”.



Continuing the legacy of my first version of Elektra, this drink is also pretty ruthless…


9 parts rowanberry vodka

2 to 3 parts dry vermouth (Noilly Prat)

(up to 1 part simple syrup or apricot brandy, see below)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with rowanberries.

Next time someone asks for a “White/Pink Lady, but with more kick”, shake this. As its namesake, this cocktail is beautiful… and l_e_t_h_a_l.

Okay… I have few Test Subjects who enjoy this drink, in all its sour glory, but if it’s just too much, add some simple syrup: not too much, it’s easy to ruin “the substance” of the cocktail with too much sugar.

Apricot brandy also work as a great “softener”, and it adds some “noble feel” also; suitable for Elektra. Bad news(?) is that it turns the red tint into something more brown-ish: nice colour still, though.


So there are my first two rowanberry vodka superhero cocktails… there’s going to be more in the future but please relax for now: something much less sour next time 😀


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