What is vodka? Well, it's the alcoholic drink of the past, the present and the future. Many people drink vodka. Have you ever wondered why? One major reason is the commonly held belief that, of all alcoholic drinks, Vodka is far less likely to give you a hangover. In fact, there is no scientific basis for this.
Origins of Vodka - Cloudy
The Russian historian W. Pokhlebkin claims that vodka was first produced in a monastery in Moscow in the middle of the 15th century. Well he would, wouldn't he? In fact, the origins of Vodka are clouded in mystery. Among others, the Poles, the Persians, the Tartars and even the Italians have been attributed with its invention. But there's no doubting that as early as 1540, Ivan the Terrible Czar of Russia, created the first state alcohol monopoly, handed out distilling licenses to his cronies, and chopped off the heads of anyone caught moonshining.
Whether they invented it or not, vodka has always been and always will be flowing in the Slavic blood. More than just a drink. For many - an almost spiritual experience. It is said that Prince Vladimir of Kiev's astute observation that "drinking is the joy of the Rus" provided the clincher in the toss up between Christianity and Islam as the religion of the nation.
Now, it's time to take an in-depth look at Vodka in all its glory. What are the most popular brands of Vodka? How much do they cost? Which popular drinks vodka as an important ingredient Vodka? How do you make them? These and many other rhetorical questions will be answered as you read on. We'll even throw in a few little known facts about this unbeatable beverage!
Vodkas by type
Vodka is an incredibly versatile drink. You can drink it neat, as a pure and healthy spirit; drink it with mixers like tonic water or bitter lemon; enjoy it as part of an exotic cocktail, or sample some of the thousands of flavoured vodkas available.
Although there's no universally recognised method of categorising vodkas by type, we can safely identify them by their basic ingredients: potato and grain, wheat and rye, grapes, grain only, rye and corn, to name some of the most common. This can be taken further to the sub-categories of brewing methods and flavours.
The modern drinks industry uses vodka's "purity" as its indicator of quality. In essence this boils down to: the more times a batch of vodka is distilled, the more pure it becomes, leading to the three industry standards of: Standard, Premium and Deluxe vodka. In former soviet countries we also find types like Strong Vodka (stronger than 40% and up to as much as 55% alcohol per unit volume). And, of course, we can also distinguish vodkas by vodka brands.
The first vodka to graced the tables of our ancestors was probably a "neutral", un-flavoured vodka. Flavoured vodka was a relatively late arrival. Its origins lie in medieval man's attempts to refine the savage taste of the pure spirit. This started first and most famously in Russia, where today you will find the widest variety of flavoured vodkas in the world, including Lemon vodka and the classic Pertsovka Vodka (flavoured with red hot chilli peppers!)
Not to be outdone by their northern neighbours, the Poles have their own very distinctly aromatic smooth tasting Zubrovka Vodka, flavoured with grass trodden by local bison, if you believe the label. You can also buy red vodka. The most popular brand is known as V Red Vodka. The "V" stands, not - as some people wrongly imagine - for "Very", but for Vampire. Other drinks have Red "Vodka" in their name, but they should really come under the classification of liquors. These include, Pushkin Red Vodka AND Vodka Red - Mandarin.
Most famous vodka brands
Can you list the World's Top Ten Vodka Brands? Cover the section below and have a go. Now, uncover it and check your answers with the experts, Forbes, and Gayot's. You might be surprised to notice that Absolut Vodka and Safeways's own brand are conspicuous by their absence.
- Absolut Vodka - Sweden
- Belvedere Vodka - Rye - Poland
- Boru Vodka - Ireland
- Chopin Vodka - Poland
- Ketel One Vodka - Holland
- Level Vodka - Sweden
- Stolichnaya Gold Vodka - Russia
- Ston Vodka - Estonia
- Turi Vodka - Estonia
- Vox Vodka - Holland
- Wyborowa Vodka - Poland
- Imperia Vodka - Russia
- SKYY 90 Vodka - United States
- Jean-Marc XO Vodka - France
- Ultimat Vodka - Poland
- Xellent Vodka - Switzerland
- 42 Below Vodka - New Zealand
- Hangar 1 Vodka - United States
- Roth California Vodka - United States
- Stolichnaya Elit Vodka - Russia
- Kauffman Luxury Vintage Vodka - Russia
Most popular Russian vodka names:
Vodka Russian Standart Platinum, Nemiroff Lex, Stolichnaya Vodka, Smirnoff Vodka, Surkoff Vodka, Pshenichnaya Vodka. Most Russians say it's Putinka that is the best - a superior vodka made by "Moscow Distillery Cristall". They say it's mild in flavour and very smooth. One of the promotional campaigns for Putinka claims that it is actually good for relaxing and overcoming fatigue.
How much would you have to spend?
If you're not a big vodka buff you're probably blissfully unaware that the price of vodka is not necessarily a mark of its quality. One or the few things that vodka and water (the bottled variety) have in common is that their prices are often determined more by clever marketing than practised distilling. So think on! You'll often be paying more for the label than the contents. A bottle of Absolut - possibly the most imaginatively advertised vodka in the world - can be picked up for as little as $20, but some varieties of Absolut will set you back $40 or more. Vodka Smirnoff is another example, some of which cost as little as $10 a bottle. Held in the highest esteem by many vodka fans, Belvedere and Chopin can command a price of $40.
Meanwhile, back in the former USSR, rubbing shoulders on the shelves with the big names of the west, you can find the highest quality vodkas at unbelievably low prices; sometimes as low as $4 a bottle! Next time you're in Ukraine (or a local liquor store that knows a thing or two) keep your eye out for Celsius Lux Platinum Filtered and Kozatska Rada, to name two of many. That's not to say that all Vodka are cheaper in the ex-Eastern Bloc, a bottle of Russia's famous Kauffman Luxury Vintage Vodka will knock you back a hefty $225.
Most popular drinks with Vodka, or Say goodbye to the morning after?
Amazing as it may seem, vodka is said to be the perfect ingredient for making any one of the at least 500 varieties of vodka cocktails and other vodka mix drinks.
Everyone's heard of the classic Bloody Mary, along with other popular concoctions like Vodka Sangria, Long Island Iced Tea, Red Bull Energy Drink Mixed With Vodka, not to mention a variety of sweet drinks made with vodka (vodka cocktails) - Apple Martini, Cosmopolitan, Black Russian.
No less tasty but slightly less well known arev osdukcah mix drinksa s Power Drill, Sweettart, St.Petersburg, Sunshine, Vodka-beer Slammer, Purple Passion Martini, Tiny Elvis and many others.
And here are a few cocktails that it's probably safer to order by pointing at the menu and saying, "Er... I'll have this one, please": Dog Piss, Orgasm, and Sex on the Bar.
Vodka-based recipes are not only confined to drinks prepared with vodka. One of the most popular is known as Vodka Watermelon. For this you'll need a bottle of vodka, a watermelon and a sharp knife. Cut a hole in the top of your melon and pour in the vodka. Give it half an hour or so to thoroughly soak into the pulp. Then simply cut the watermelon into the usual segments and serve (an excellent choice if you're not in a drinking mood)!
Of course, there's nothing to stop the more adventurous from inventing their very own recipes. Check out your fridge, your fruit bowl or your larder; let your imagination run riot. Or simply click on one of the links below for some tried and trusted recipes: