If the Easter Bunny drank, we’re pretty sure this spirit made entirely from carrots would be his drink of choice.
Carrots can be roasted, juiced, puréed, and now, taking on their most exciting role yet, transformed into 92-proof booze. Pennsylvania-based craft distillery Boardroom Spirits just released C, an eau-de-vie-style spirit made entirely from the root vegetable beloved by bunnies and humans alike.
To be clear, this is not a carrot-flavored vodka, though it would be delicious in a Bloody Mary. “We use literally a ton of carrots, ground down, fermented and distilled to capture the flavor and essence of that vegetable,” co-founder Marat Mamedov says. “Vodka is basically scentless and tasteless, whereas a distilled spirit made with a beet or a carrot really captures the essence and the experience of taking a vegetable or fruit, smelling it, biting into it and getting that flavor.”
Mamedov founded Boardroom Spirits with his wife, Zsuzsa, and brother, Vlad, but before launching in 2016, the trio turned to Zsuzsa’s native Hungary to learn the craft of distilling from a country that takes its brandy seriously. It’s one of the few places where home-distilling is legal, and like Champagne for France, the Hungarian fruit brandy known as Pálinka is protected as a geographical indication in the European Union. (So don’t even think of calling your German-made brandy by that name, danke very much.)
The group partnered with a doctor of fermentation and distillation at Corvinus University of Budapest and did about a year of recipe development before finalizing their formula. While brandy is traditionally made with fruit, C and its predecessor B (made with beets) are the first distilled spirits in the U.S. made 100 percent from vegetables.
The motivation for transforming root vegetables into savory spirits stemmed, in part, from the desire to create something entirely different from the thousands of different vodkas, rums, gins and whiskeys on the market. The team didn’t lead with vegetable spirits, though, opting instead to launch their brand with the more universally-accessible vodka. Made with fresh ginger, citrus fruit and cranberries, Boardroom’s infused vodka line is a departure from the artificially-flavored blends that have flooded the market in recent years. “We’re doing away with the Wild West of birthday cake, Swedish fish and all those ridiculous flavors.”
Making one batch of C requires about 2,000 pounds of carrots, each individually inspected by hand to ensure no rotten or bruised veggies enter the mix. After grinding them down, the carrots are fermented and distilled. The company’s goal is to source locally whenever possible, but while nearby farms supply apples and corn (used to make their brandy and whiskey, respectively), local carrots are hard to come by in Lansdale, Pennsylvania.
“You’ve got your Israeli carrots, Canadian carrots and California carrots, but we do plan on addressing that and working locally as much as possible,” says Mamedov.
In the meantime, Boardroom partnered with a pig farmer named Gary who picks up spent grain and produce that didn’t make the cut to feed his heritage-breed, mule-footed hogs. And to take the cycle one step further, Mamedov bought one. “So we ate the hog that was eating our spent mash. It was phenomenal,” he says.
For all the novelty C brings to the table, how does it taste? Clocking in at 46 percent ABV (in comparison, a glass of wine is usually around 12 percent), the clear spirit is smooth and fragrant, with notes of sweet carrot and slightly peppery fennel. The product has both fascinated and challenged bartenders. Adding B or C to a Bloody Mary is an obvious move, but bars and restaurants are also mixing up more creative concoctions. Philadelphia’s Aldine, for example, created the Raspberry Thyme Gimlet with C, vodka, lime juice, raspberry and thyme simple syrup, while another local restaurant is using the beet spirit to cure salmon.
We’re no dieticians, but with experts recommending consuming up to nine servings of fruits and vegetables daily, C seems like a beautiful way to help hit that target.