Russia is not really Russia without Vodka. The spirit has become one of the country’s true identities. Russians would rather skip their meals than not drinking vodka. Russia ranks fourth in alcohol consumption worldwide, currently. And guess what spirit the people drink the most? That’s right: vodka! If you ask the modern Russian men why they drink so much vodka, they would likely tell you it helps them to get on with the rough daily life in Russia. Vodka is a cheap medium to escape the reality.
Made from fermented grain, vodka was first distilled at a Muscovite monastery in the 1440s. It was the Russian’s smart way to produce an alternative spirit after finding the truth that grapes couldn’t grow well in the country’s cold climate, which meant they had to say goodbye to wine production. Since then, vodka has been the most drunk spirit in Russia that it has shaped the country’s history, culture, even political situation. There are all sorts of cocktails in Russia, but each of them always includes vodka as the main ingredient. Why is this particular alcoholic drink so significant in Russia? We’ll take a look at the 9 reasons behind it.
1. Vodka goes well with food
Russian food seems to be invented to accompany vodka, that is why they fit so well together. The Russian traditional dishes such as pickled mushrooms, dried herrings, cured meat, caviar, and many more taste better when vodka is had together with them. There is something about the fermented drink that compliments all of these signature dishes.
2. Vodka is healthier than any other spirits
The level of the harm an alcoholic drink can do is generally measured by how bad the hangover it causes the morning after. By taking this standard, the Russians believe that vodka is less harmful compared to whiskey or cognac. Some doctors even affirmed this by advising some of their patients to stay away from alcohol unless if it’s vodka. This fact could be found true because vodka is distilled several times leaving the fusel oil out which then lowering the intoxication effect, and there is no sugar in expensive vodka.
3. Vodka is less expensive
The first spirit the youths in Russia would drink is definitely vodka, because it’s cheap and strong enough to make them drunk quite quickly. The cheapest vodka is priced 215 Rubles per bottle and it can be shared among friends, diluted in juice, and still giving the high one is after. The premium vodka, though, could reach the 8,000 Rubles point.
4. Vodka is flavorless and odorless
This is a very clear reason why vodka can fit in any cocktail recipes. The pure vodka has no flavor or smell except for the ethanol’s, so it is a pure spirit and perfect to be combined with other alcoholic drinks or fruit juices or syrups and many more. Well, there is flavored vodka – but it is usually drunk on its own, not in a mixture.
5. Vodka is the identity of Russia
There are a lot of cocktails that use the word “Russia” in the name to explain that it contains vodka such as the White Russian. In other countries, it may be alright to substitute vodka with other spirits in mixed alcoholic drinks. But, in Russia, cocktails should be made with vodka in them. It is like a way to respect the nation and stick with the tradition and Russian culture.
6. There is no joy without vodka
Although some Russians drink vodka to escape the bitterness of their daily lives, not a few drink it for happiness and fun. The long history of this fact says that pleasure should be had together with vodka. This is one of the reasons why the Russians put it in their drink recipes; because people go to cocktail bars and pubs to enjoy themselves.
7. Vodka brings people together
Although there are records about how vodka had contributed to the rise and fall of the Russian history, the modern Russians still believe that vodka is the only spirit that can bring the country together. Well, if the scope can’t be as big as a nation, at least having vodka as it is or as an ingredient in cocktails could definitely make friendships closer, relationships warmer, and colleagues trust each other more. Vodka has always been a part of the Russian social culture and will always be. Only sad people drink vodka alone and straight from the bottle.
8. Vodka provides for everyone
There are a lot more brands of alcohol in Russia today other than vodka, but people still stick to this one spirit. It is simply because it has something for everyone, starting from the range of price, the flavors, the flexibility it gives to contribute to each and every one’s favorite cocktail, and how easy it can be found almost in every city in Russia.
9. Vodka is a perfect drink for festive season
Other than sparkling champagne, Russians would usually have at least a bottle of vodka on the table when a special day is celebrated such as New Year’s, Maslenitsa, and other occasions like office parties and promotions. Not only on Russia, alcohol drink lovers around the world would also agree that when it comes to parties, vodka is the right spirit to be poured into the cocktails like martini, long island tea, cosmopolitan and more.
Now you know the 9 reasons why vodka is always part of Russian drink recipes; mainly because it is the only spirit that the Russians would approve for every situation. It is in their blood – like, literally.