Probably one of the most popular alcoholic beverages in the world today, vodka is a clear and mostly tasteless drink made from the distillation of fermented grains or potatoes.
This rather high alcohol content drink is drunk neat and is also part of a range of classic cocktails like the Screwdriver, vodka tonic, Sex on the beach, White Russian and Bloody Mary. Speaking of which, it has been traditionally attributed to Russia, but some scholars argue that it was in fact first produced in Poland.
Most sources claim that vodka was first produced either in 8th century Poland or 9th century Russia. In the early days, vodka was mostly used for medicinal purposes, and did not contain the high alcohol content we recognize from today. By the 1800’s, Russia’s government started promoting the consumption of locally made alcoholic beverages, and vodka became a drink for the common people, since grape wines were expensive and could only be afforded by aristocrats and the upper echelon of society.
While vodka is characterized by its colorless and odourless state, there were a couple of producers that added flavors to vodka to make it tastier or for medicinal purposes. The addition of pepper, ginger, cinnamon, chocolate, vanilla, honey and herbs by different producers formed the base for what we know as flavored vodka today. In fact, flavored vodka has caught on so much that there are some truly outlandish flavors available, like pickle vodka, peanut butter and jelly vodka, tomato vodka, and even bacon vodka!
Since vodka is basically water and ethanol, it also finds use in many unconventional scenarios, mostly regarding cleaning, sterilizing and disinfecting. If you’re still not satisfied, vodka is also known to be a great to soothe wounds, kill weeds and even remove stains. So the next time you think of a really versatile beverage that is equally at home in a cocktail glass or as a sipper, look no further than vodka!