New Obsessions: ROE Caviar and Our/Vodka

Courtesy ROE Caviar

This season, two up-and-coming companies offer 21st-century bon vivants an innovative update to a timeless pairing.

Few culinary treats carry as much luxury—or history—as fine caviar and well made vodka. But instead of sticking to the classics this season, we're mixing up the pairing with two new brands that are as modern as they are delicious: ROE Caviar and Our/Vodka.

North American-based caviar purveyor Roe launched this November with a very limited yield of exceedingly fresh, farm-raised White Sturgeon caviar. The savvy supplier spent a year scouting farms around the world before settling on California’s Sacramento Valley, an area fast gaining traction for its sustainable approach to the delicacy and the unique flavor of its eggs. Briny and buttery, smooth and nutty, Roe’s product is just right: bold without being pungent, unctuous while maintaining its firmness; the caviar holds its own against the typical accouterment, and tastes even better straight from the spoon. 

Harvested in October and aged in salt for one month to coax the roe’s flavors and preserve them naturally (no Borax, a common preservative used by many European brands, was added), Roe’s scarceness—with only 2,000 tins in all—is predicated on its quality. Each decidedly modern, sleek 125-gram ($275) and 250-gram ($550) tin contains caviar from a single sturgeon. Maintaining the belief that the delicacy should only be enjoyed at its peak (within three months of harvesting), Roe is only making its first batch available for purchase through December 31, 2015. After that, it’s wait-and-see for the top-tier caviar Roe tracks down next year, sourced from whichever corner of the world is doing it best in 2016. 

A forward-thinking caviar deserves an equally innovative complement. Lately, we’ve been sipping Our/Vodka, a two-year-old brand based in Sweden that teams up with local entrepreneurs in select cities around the world—Berlin (launched in 2013), Detroit (2014), Seattle (2015), Amsterdam (2015), London (2015), and in the coming months New York, Los Angeles, and beyond—to set up micro-distilleries that use the exact same recipe but produce vodkas each imbued with distinct, local character (roughly $20 for a 350 milliliter bottle).

In practice, that means each city’s vodka consists of a base spirit produced locally (from wheat in Berlin and Seattle, corn in Detroit, grapes in L.A., etc.), water sourced locally, and the same proprietary “aromatic base”—the weak spirits that result from the first distillation—made at headquarters in Sweden using a patented yeast that adds citrus-y notes to the finished product. This "low wine" is then distilled again at the micro-distillery before all three ingredients are blended together and bottled. Though each city shares the same recipe, marked differences can be detected among them; in our tasting, we preferred the smoother, slightly sweeter stuff from Detroit—especially when served on the rocks with a squeeze of lemon, and a bite of perfectly briny Roe caviar.