Alcohol Education: 10 Mandatory Facts to Know About Vodka
When it comes to vodka, things tend to get a little tricky. If you tell people that your favorite spirit is vodka, they’ll either think you know nothing about alcohol or you’re an alcoholic. It’s safe to say the clear ethanol and water-based neutral spirit doesn’t really get a lot of respect in the alcohol world. Originating in Poland and Russia (depending on the variation), vodka is the ugly step-daughter of the alcohol world. She’s there and we love her, but we really don’t want to be seen in public with her.
But, with all of the negative energy surrounding vodka, the spirit has been distilled for centuries. It also remains one of the most popular spirits in the world. And since we’re tired of people badmouthing this classic liquor, we decided to compile a list of 10 of the most interesting vodka facts. Check them all out below.
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Poland claims to have invented vodka.
While there’s a dispute as to whether or not Poland or Russia created vodka, popular theory says that Poland produced the first vodka way back in the 8th century, making it one of the oldest spirits in the history of the world. Surprisingly, not much has changed in the centuries since.
Gin is just vodka with added botanicals.
Gina and vodka both start as a neutral spirit. For some reason, gin gets a lot more respect in the alcohol world just because juniper berries and other botanicals are added for flavor.
Vodka’s alcohol volume rarely changes.
Since the late 1800s, it’s been established that (unlike whiskey) pretty much all vodka is bottled at 40 percent ABV. In Europe, vodka can’t be any less than 37.5 percent ABV. So, it’s a safe bet you’re going to be drinking around 80-proof vodka anywhere in the world.
Vodka isn’t supposed to have a flavor.
A continuous still is used during the distillation process of vodka. This means that it is constantly removing impurities and congeners that could give the vodka a funky flavor. It’s also distilled multiple times and filtered through charcoal and other porous rocks. The point is to remove all flavor, but in many vodkas, you can still taste hints of the base ingredients.
The name comes from a Slavic word.
Similar to how whiskey comes from Gaelic, vodka comes from the Slavic word “voda,” which means water. Makes sense to us since vodka is pretty much just boozy water.
Not all vodka is made from potatoes.
You might have heard that vodka is made from potatoes. While you’re not wrong, today most vodka is made from cereal grains. It can also be made with beets, grapes, and even rice.
Vodka is most often served neat.
While you might enjoy your vodka soda, the most common way to imbibe vodka is poured neat from a bottle chilled in a freezer. That’s how you’ll get it in places like Belarus, Estonia, Russia, and Sweden.
There’s a reason vodka is kept in the freezer.
Some vodka tends to be harsh. Even if it is smooth, it still carries quite a bit of heat. Putting it in the freezer tends to mellow it out. This makes it a lot easier to drink.
Many of the most well-known cocktails are vodka-based.
Since vodka is one of the most versatile spirits, it should come as no surprise that it’s the base for some of the most well-known classic cocktails. It’s the base spirit for the vodka tonic, greyhound, screwdriver, Moscow mule, bloody mary, and many more.
Some vodkas are gluten-free.
Unlike beer, people who can’t have gluten can enjoy vodka as much as they want. Even though many vodkas are made with cereal grains like wheat and rye, one of the most well-known American brands (Tito’s Handmade Vodka) is made with corn.