Those who do not have any experience living in the desert probably think cactus is a useless plant that is good only to hurt people with its pointed needles. That is far from the truth. Cactus has been an important food source for people living in the desert. Not only does the cactus feed the people, but it also gets them drunk.
As the name suggests, cactus vodka is vodka made from cactus. There is very little known and documented about the real history of cactus vodka. Production is small compared to older, more popular, and more established spirits like tequila, vodka, whiskey, rum, and other spirits.
Cactus Vodka Trivia
- The prickly pear cactus is the official state plant of Texas.
- Prickly pear cactus is very nutritious and healthy. Eating it can help people with type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, colitis, and diarrhea. It also helps fight viral infections.
- But even though cactus spirit is a small market compared to other spirits, right now many spirits are being produced using cactus. There is prickly pear liqueur, prickly pear wine, and prickly pear moonshine.
Cactus Vodka Buying Guide
Even though cactus vodka is a small-market spirit, many liquor stores sell bottles of cactus vodka. In Texas, cactus vodka is ubiquitous. When buying cactus vodka, make sure to read the details on the label. This will indicate whether it is cactus vodka or simply a cactus-flavored spirit. Don’t forget to do your due diligence as well. Inspect the bottle carefully for any signs of damage or tampering. Check the contents (if the glass is clear) for any possible impurities that quality control may have overlooked. Buy from an established liquor store.
Cactus Vodka Production & Farming in Texas
Cacti is ubiquitous in the deserts of the American southwest. Paddles of cacti are harvested, cut, fermented for six weeks, distilled, diluted to 40 percent alcohol, filtered, sampled, and bottled.
Products can be confusing. For example, Grand Canyon Prickly Pear Vodka may appear like cactus vodka but in truth, this is just a prickly pear-flavored spirit that used barley and wheat as base ingredients. Western Son Distillery in Pilot Point, Texas also sells prickly pear-flavored vodka, called Prickly Pear Flavored Vodka. This is not cactus vodka.
Spike Vodka is a genuine Texas-made cactus vodka and not simply cactus-flavored or cactus-infused, described by owners as an artisan vodka. Spike Vodka is made from cactus harvested in San Antonio. Although it does not say cactus vodka, Texas Hill Country Distillers LLC has a product that fits the bill, which it calls Texas Prickly Pear Cactus Spirits.
Pesticides, Additives, and Chemicals:
There is not much information about cactus vodka and the additives and other chemicals added in the production of this spirit. Coloring additives may have been used if the cactus vodka you are drinking is not clear and comes in a particular color. Another possible additive that can be used in cactus vodka that is commonly used in other spirits as well is sugar or artificial food flavoring to give the cactus vodka a particular taste or flavor.
Cactus vodka is sold in bottles. Unlike other spirits with a long history of being commercially-produced that has allowed some brands to establish an identity that includes packaging component (bottle shape, packaging colors, and other packaging details associated with a particular brand), cactus vodka is still a young spirit and no company or brand has achieved this level of prominence yet. Looking at the different cactus bottles on the shelf of a liquor store, you will notice that different companies are using different bottle shapes and designs, possibly hoping this could help set them apart from other brands and help in the brand recall should the brand become popular.
Enjoying Cactus Vodka
To some drinkers, cactus vodka may taste or smell like vodka, and it will have the same clean taste as vodka. Cactus vodka gives off a heavy cactus aroma. A good bottle will give you notes of almonds, lemongrass, pepper, and vanilla upon sipping. Overall, a cactus vodka is earthy, the spirit reflecting its terroir. Cocktail vodka may not be popular. But it has a great flavor profile and it tastes good when used as a base spirit for cocktails like margarita and limoncello made with lime.
Store in a cool, dry place. Do not store under direct sunlight. Always keep the bottle closed during storage. Store where it is inaccessible and unreachable to children and minors. It is up to you whether you want to refrigerate or freezer it, since the cold could dull the taste of the cactus vodka (unless this is what you are going for, in which case, go ahead).
Make your own Prickly Pear Vodka Martini
This highlights prickly pear cactus’ flavor potential, combining prickly pear cactus syrup and prickly pear cactus vodka. Using cactus vodka is a great way to experience a martini in a new way. Who knows, maybe this version appeals better to you?
This recipe yields one glass of Prickly Pear Cactus Vodka Martini
- Cactus vodka, 60 ml
- Prickly pear cactus syrup, 30 ml
- Cointreau, 15 ml
- Lemon juice, 15 ml
- Maraschino cherry, 1 piece
- Ice cubes
Step 1. Put everything except the cherry in a cocktail shaker.
Step 2. Shake thoroughly.
Step 3. Strain and pour into a chilled martini glass.
Step 4. Add the cherry to garnish.
Step 5. Serve or drink!