I used to live just up the street from Rite Liquors, a mildly sketchy Polish bar/liquor store near Division and Ashland that I developed a certain affection for over time. It had an odd sort of charm helped along by friendly bartenders, one of whom introduced me to Zubrowka, or bison grass vodka. It’s a slightly herbal (and, yes, grassy-tasting) liquor distilled from rye that’s been made in Poland since the 16th century, and has a complex history in this country that the Wall Street Journal detailed in a 2011 article. It was banned in the U.S. for years because it contains coumarin, a moderately toxic chemical that occurs naturally in bison grass. When it comes to the appeal of the forbidden and possibly dangerous, absinthe has nothing on Zubrowka. In 2005 the Polish distillery Polmos Bialystok, the only distillery allowed to use the Zubrowka name, developed a formula without coumarin and began selling it in the U.S.

The most common way to drink Zubrowka seems to be with apple juice, which, until this weekend, was the only way I’d ever had it. But on Friday I was flipping through the recent Hearty Boys cookbook (mixology book?) The New Old Bar, and came across a recipe called the Bison Grass Crusta that called for Zubrowka, lemon juice, and pineapple syrup. I love ginger syrup but I’d never made pineapple syrup before, and it looked good—and I already had most of a bottle of Zubrowka on hand.