“I believe that if life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade… And try to find somebody whose life has given them vodka, and have a party. ” -Ron White
Vodka is easily one of the most popular forms of alcohol there is. It is made through the distillation process and is primarily composed of water and ethanol. It originates from the fermentation of grains, potatoes, and sometimes fruits.
It usually lacks color and often times lacks aroma and taste. It can be separated into two main categories: clear vodka, and flavored vodkas. It can come in a wide variety of flavors.
How to Drink Vodka
Vodka can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. It’s not uncommon where the drink originates, Russia and eastern Europe, for people to drink it straight. In America and other western countries it is more often enjoyed within cocktails.
It’s a staple in any bar and can be found in a variety of famous cocktails including the Bloody Mary and Screwdriver.
The History of Vodka
Vodka gets its name from the Russian word “voda” which means water. The production of vodka was first documented at the end of the 9th century in Russia. However, the first known distillery was a few hundred years later in 1174. Vodka was described as the Russian national drink in the 14th century by a British emissary to Moscow.
As the drink grew in popularity it was also recognized as the national drink in both Poland and Finland during the 16th century. Around the time of its origin vodka was frequently used as a medicine. Early production methods were unsophisticated which caused the drink to contain impurities. Because of this distillers flavored the drink with fruit, herbs and spices. This likely started the practice of flavoring vodka.
Vodka spread in popularity during the 19th century. The participation of Russian soldiers in the Napoleonic Wars helped spread the drinks popularity across Europe. It wasn’t until the end of the 19th century that all the distilleries adopted a standard production technique. This gave the drink a consistent level of quality. It was at this point that the name “vodka” was officially and formally recognized.
During the Russian Revolution many Russian vodka makers emigrated out of the country taking their distillery skills and recipes with them. One such distiller by the name of Pyotr Arsenievich Smirnov started a distillery in Paris. There he revived his brand and gave it the French version of his name- Smirnoff.
How Vodka is Made
Vodka can be distilled from any starch or sugar enriched plant. Most vodka is made from grains such as corn, rye, wheat, or sorghum. Some vodkas are also made from potatoes, molasses, soybeans, grapes, rice, and sugar beets. The grains are heated until starch is released and converted into sugar. The resulting substance is known as a mash.
The mash then is fermented. After the fermentation process the substance is distilled; often multiple times. Multiple distillations result in a higher alcohol content. After the distillation process water is added in order to dilute the substance and lower the alcohol content. The vodka is then bottled and ready to be sold.