So, what the hell is Tubi 60?
That’s the question I asked myself as I unboxed a mysterious bottle filled with a cloudy, amber-colored liquid, complete with a plain label that pictured a dove flying off with some sort of fruit. The combination of the homely bottle and unfiltered-looking spirit reminded me of a homemade liquor you’d receive as an after-dinner gift in another country.
Well the “another country” part of that is accurate. Tubi 60 is an export of Israel. According to the press release I received, it was “…developed in Israel in a joint effort between master distillers, botanists and Israeli scientists.” It’s a statement best read in the dramatic-movie-trailer-announcer voice.
Further internet research reveals that it’s a huge thing in Tel Aviv, and is often employed as a starting-the-night-out-right shot. Its recipe has also been subject to frenzied speculation, and unsubstantiated rumors suggest some type of hallucinogenic or euphoria-causing herb.
According to my press release, it’s a “neutral grain spirit distilled from corn and blended with a maceration of lemons, herbs, spices, tree and flower extract.” The release went on to list its impressive lineup of roots, herbs and spices, which includes ginger, turmeric, mint, anise, saffron, cumin and ginseng.
The bottle also came with a handwritten note (it was not, sadly, inside the bottle) urging me to chill it and then try it by itself first, before mixing with soda or tonic water as they do in Tel Aviv. Sounds good.
After several hours of freezer storage I retrieved the well-chilled bottle and gave it a good shake (according to further handwritten instructions), poured myself a two ounce shot, and took it back. It had a lemony semi-sweetness that did not strike me as syrupy, as I’d feared. It was closer to fresh squeezed lemonade then limoncello. There was a nice, buzzing undercurrent of spices: ginger and turmeric in particular made themselves known.
However, that’s not to say it went down smoothly. It’s 80 proof, and feels just as it should. It was bright, lemony, herbal, and reviving. I’d be curious to see how this functions as an after-dinner shot.
I then attempted to experience Tubi 60 the way I do most spirits, which is to pour it into a rocks glass, patiently parse the nose, and start sipping in search of mouthfeel and tasting notes. Well, that doesn’t really apply here. Slowly sipped neat it had a much more syrupy quality, overly sweet and less nuanced. However, I was willing to cut Tubi 60 a break and guess that no one is trying to drink it like a fine scotch.
For my last experiment, I made a spritz by pouring two ounces of chilled Tubi 60 over three large ice cubes and diluting with club soda. This “Tel Aviv Spritz,” as I decided to call it on the spot, was… fantastic. The dilution had dulled that syrupy quality, and brought me back to thinking of it as a fresh, alcoholic lemonade with a multi-layered herbal kick. The ginger was now coming through stronger than ever, which made the concoction even more refreshing. The herbal effect of the other spices, particularly the turmeric, made it feel like I was drinking some delicious, natural juice that just happened to be 40% ABV.
Tubi 60 is not like most things that come across my desk. I can’t advocate for it to be sipped neat. But it makes a satisfying, sinus-clearing shot, and an absolutely righteous highball. I’m quite curious to see how it can be mixed in other ways.
Tubi 60 began its American expansion this month in Austin, TX and plans to enter the New York City market before April. Whether it’s destined to overtake Fireball as the club-goer’s shot of choice or become an industry favorite like Fernet Branca remains to be seen, but it’s a wonderful thing to get your hands on if you’re looking for an entirely different sort of drinking experience.
— 40% ABV
— $28 (Austin price, may vary elsewhere)
CE Rating: ★★★