Vodka is a colorless distilled alcoholic beverage made up of water and ethanol (with some additives in most cases) made by distilling the fermented liquid extracted from cereal grains (originally), and more recently, potatoes, fruits, honey, or maple sap. Vodka has a 40% ABV – a standard that has been enforced since the 1890s. Today, vodka is produced in many parts of the world.
Although typically associated with Russia, vodka actually has its origins in three different countries: Poland, Sweden, and Russia. In Poland, the production of vodka as a cottage industry started in the 16th century. Industrial mass production of vodka began in the 18th century.
In Russia, vodka became the drink of choice for the Russians as a result of the government’s policy to promote the consumption of the vodka produced by the state. Russian were able to buy and consume vodka especially after the government monopoly on the production of vodka ceased in 1863, making the vodka affordable. This also allowed for taxes, and vodka taxes comprised nearly 40% of government finances during Tsarist Russia. At the start of the 20th century, vodka would comprise 89% of all alcohol consumed by the Russians.
In Sweden, grain was originally used to produce vodka, which the Swedish called “burn-wine”. The first Swedish vodka brand is Explorer Vodka. This vodka was created in 1958, primarily for export to America, which did not come to fruition. A Swedish vodka brand popular worldwide is Absolut, which was launched in 1979.
- Vodka has many uses for cooking – for making pasta sauce and for baking, for example.
- Vodka used to be associated with medicinal drinks.
- The word “vodka” entered the Russian dictionary in the mid-19th century.
- There is no clear and definite history with regards to the true origins of vodka because there is no historical material available.
- Neighboring European countries known for their preference for vodka are known collectively as the Vodka Belt, comprising Scandinavia, Russia, the Baltics, Belarus, Ukraine, and the central and eastern regions of Poland.
- Vodka’s nickname is potato juice.
Vodka Buying Guide
Consider some of these tips when buying vodka.
Buy from a liquor store, or a legit business authorized to stock and sell spirits and liquors. If you buy from a seller that is not authorized to sell and stock vodkas, this poses a lot of problems. First, you could be buying bottles from a stolen stock and you violate the anti-fencing law. Secondly, you can be buying a bottle from a stock of illegal shipment, which means potential criminal liabilities as well. You can also be buying fake or tampered bottles, and you are not protected from any type of store exchange policy.
When buying a bottle of vodka, always check the seal. Check the bottle as well for possible signs of tampering or damage. Check the liquid inside as well if you can see through the bottle.
When buying vodka, remember that there is a very good chance the cheapest bottle is the worst-tasting vodka. If that is all you can afford, then it is alright, but if you have a decent budget and you are drinking vodka to celebrate an important or special occasion, buy a more expensive bottle. Do your due diligence also: scour the internet for reviews and see what is available to you locally. Liquor stores usually carry foreign and locally-made vodkas.
There are just three types of vodkas to choose from: pure vodka, fruit or herbal infused vodkas, and flavored vodka. How do fruit and herbal infused vodkas differ from flavored vodkas? Simple. Infused vodkas require an infusion process that includes real fruits or herbs. Flavored vodkas are vodkas treated with artificial food flavor to carry a hint of a particular flavor aside from fruits or herbs, like salted caramel, peanut butter, and jelly, and yes, bacon too.
Vodka Production & Farming in Texas
Texas is considered as one of the most prolific vodka-producing regions in the United States. There is a considerable list of Texas-made vodka, from those typically found on the counter to premium and boutique vodkas, each with its own unique quality. Some of the Texas-made vodka brands include Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Space City Vodka (Houston’s first vodka distillery), the award-winning Dirk’s Vodka and Starlite Vodka, Findlay’s Vodka (which is a honey-based vodka), Banner Natural Vodka which uses harvested rainwater, Western Son Texas Vodka which is made from American yellow corn and the Longhorn Vodka that uses the white variety of corn, Dash Premium Vodka which is unique because of the use of raisins, Troubadour Texas Vodka which mirrors traditional European style of producing vodka by using organic winter wheat, and Dripping Springs Vodka, a certified kosher vodka. There are other brands out there, but if you want to buy Texas-made vodka, these should be at the top of your list.
Pesticides, Additives, and Chemicals:
The practice of making vodka involves the use of additives like honey, sugar, glycerine, citric acid, 3-Hexanone, methanol, propanol. Honey is added to vodka to improve the viscosity and mouthfeel of vodka, which is the same reason for the use of glycerine. Sugar is added because the sweet flavor helps tweak the taste of vodka towards the desired profile. Citric acid is used so that vodka can have a smoother taste if the taste is somewhat unpleasant as a result of other factors like mineral-heavy water. There should be no more than 0.1 percent citric acid in a bottle of vodka. The additive known as 3-Hexanone is added in vodka to improve the experience of drinking vodka since 3-Hexanone is a flavorant that helps the vodka have a hint of fruity or earthy tones. Lastly, some manufacturers seek to produce cheaper vodka by adding methanol and propanol which are potentially harmful especially if ingested in large quantities.
Vodka is sold in a glass bottle sometimes placed inside a box or metal tin can. Vodka products vary in bottle shape, label design, and box design. When companies release special edition items, the design of the packaging is different from the design of the packaging of regular products. Companies spend money producing intricately-designed collectible vodka packaging for special occasions. Many vodka companies have established their brand identity and brand recall based on their packaging; for example, the shape of the bottle of Absolut and the font style and size makes it recognizable. Other companies try a bolder approach to packaging to generate interest among vodka drinkers. Some companies, for example, use skull-shaped bottles to stand out and build identity. Others, in order to promote the brand, make creative use of packaging, like including other items inside the box that contains the bottle of vodka, given away as freebies.
There are a lot of ways to drink vodka. Shoot it straight from a shot glass neat, or pour some on a glass and drink on the rocks or without ice. You can mix vodka with juice, soda, or other mixers to make a cocktail drink. Vodka is the base of many popular cocktail drinks and shooters, like vodka martini and apple martini, cosmopolitan, bloody mary, black russian, vodka tonic, moscow mule, screwdriver, and kamikaze.
Drinking vodka cold fresh from the freezer seems like a good idea, but the creator of a major vodka brand pointed out that vodka shouldn’t be stored in the freezer because it dulls the flavor of the vodka. Consider this when you have premium or expensive vodka. Cheap vodka, on the other hand, could improve after being stored in the freezer because doing that helps tone down the hard, burning taste of cheap vodka.
Store vodka in a cool dry place. Some of the common places where it is stored are the kitchen cabinet, the liquor cabinet, or the bar if there is one at home. Avoid storing vodka on its side; it is preferable if the bottle is stored upright. This is important especially if the vodka bottle is secured with a cork. On its side, this means the vodka is in contact with the cork and this may cause the cork to deteriorate over time. Avoid places where it is exposed to direct sunlight. This will impact the taste of the vodka and cause the liquid to evaporate faster. Always keep opened bottles sealed when you are putting them in storage. Make sure the storage is out of reach of children.
Make your own Pink Vodka Lemonade
This cocktail is a fun drink. Easy in the eyes and easy to drink too, especially if you are drinking with family or friends who are social drinkers who enjoy their drinks sweet and fruity and are disinclined to drinking vodka neat and straight.
This recipe serves 6 to 8 persons.
- Vodka, 180 ml
- Malibu rum 60 ml
- Lime juice, 80 ml
- Cranberry juice 80 ml
- Lemonade, 60 ml
- 2 cups of ice
- Mint leaves
Step 1. Fill a pitcher with ice
Step 2. Combine all the ingredients
Step 3. Stir and mix well
Step 4. Serve with mint on for garnishing