Brands We Carry
- Grey Goose
- Three Olives
- And much more!
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A History of Vodka
In the histories of both Poland and Russia, there is clear evidence that vodka was being produced in the Middle Ages. During the 13th and 14th centuries, the distillation process had taken a remarkable turn. Multiple distillations of an alcoholic beverage could produce a drink with a higher alcohol content! In the grain-growing regions of Northeastern Europe, this alcoholic beverage was vodka.
Vodka was first used for its supposed medicinal properties. Its bad flavor was covered up with healthful and good-tasting ingredients. Until the process of rectification was invented in the 1800s, vodka maintained its unpleasant overtones. After that time, the many variations of blended vodkas (some flavors made certain localities famous) were a part of the drinker's enjoyment.
There is some dispute about the history of the word vodka. Some sources say it is derived from the Slavic word for "water," essentially making the word vodka mean "little water." Others say it comes from the Slavic verb for "to distill with water," which is a similar concept. Other vodka-producing regions, like Ukraine and the Baltics, have words for vodka that derive from their verbs for "to burn," which could refer to the boiling process undertaken during the distillation process or the burning sensation of vodka on the palate.
That vodka became a staple drink in the northern regions of Eastern Europe is hardly surprising. Vodka could be transported even during cold weather because of its low freezing point. Vodka was good for helping citizens to get through harsh, long winters. Vodka could be mixed easily with a great many ingredients (currants, honey, peppers, fruits, to name a few), so it could be flavored with whatever was on hand. Its most basic ingredient, grain (and sometimes potatoes), was plentiful and easily grown.
Vodka has played vital roles in the history of Eastern European countries. Vodka was used as a revenue-increasing product during the time of the Tsars. However, vodka is and was also responsible for rampant alcoholism. Russia briefly went through a Prohibition-like period in the 20th century, but the national drink could not be taken away from the people. Gorbachev also attempted to curb vodka sales, but this resulted in moonshine production.
Vodka today is distilled internationally from a great many ingredients. However, the originators of vodka - the Russians or the Poles, depending upon who you believe - will tell you that the purest, most authentic vodka only comes from Eastern Europe.
FUN FACTS ABOUT VODKA
1. In the 15th century a type of vodka was used for making gunpowder in Sweden.
2. Vodka has many uses besides consumption. They include:
Removing bandages painlessly, cleaning glasses, lifting wine stains, cleaning scalp and stimulating hair growth when added to shampoo, minimizing foot odor, alleviate and disinfect jellyfish stings, removing oil from poison ivy exposure, and several more.
3. Vodka became so popular in Russia was because the spirit never froze in the hard Russian winters. This is due to the high alcoholic content.
4. The name vodka comes from the Russian word for water: voda. In Ukrainian "vodka" is "horilka".