There are a few things that remind people of Russia, and vodka is one of them. Not only because this alcoholic drink is originally from the country, but also because the people have taken it daily that it literally runs in their blood. The history of vodka in Russia is quite unique; since it was a monk who came up with the first recipe of vodka in 1430 after the first spirit of wine was introduced to the country by the ambassadors of Genoa in 1386. As much as the Russians loved the spirit, they had to face the truth that grapes were too difficult to grow in the country’s cold climate. So, Isidore – the monk – tried with distilled cereal grain’s liquid that turned out to be the very spirit that has been one of Russia’s pride and symbol of identity ever since; vodka.
The right way to drink vodka is the way Russians do since they make the best combination. But do you know why they love drinking vodka so much? Is it merely a spirit to them, or does it hold a deeper meaning to them? Let us find out.
1. Vodka compliments Russian food
Russia is a place for culinary adventure as it has many unique and traditional dishes native to the country. Some of them, that were invented after vodka was found, thought to be built around the spirit itself so that they go perfectly well with the drink. You should know that Russians drink vodka “straight”, which means not mixed with anything like ice, water, or other drinks. So, to people who are not purists, the food that could go with this sort of spirit is probably quite limited. But, in Russia, you can enjoy cured fat, pickled mushrooms, dried herrings, dumplings, and many more with shots of vodka and experience the Russian paradise.
2. Vodka is as clean as the fresh air – so they say
When correctly distilled, vodka has no distinctive smell or taste. This is one of the reasons why it is considered to be versatile, flexible, and great to go with all sorts of food. Russians don’t appreciate small talk, just like how they want their spirit to be: straight to the point. Wine, beer, and other liquors could be too complicated and may not suit everybody’s taste when brought to a get-together. But vodka, it’s effortless and clean. It pleases every palate for being so neutral.
3. Vodka warms the wilting spirit
Russia could be very cold with quite long winters that could last up to six months in a year. Vodka, with its 40% alcohol by volume, is just the perfect drink to warm the freezing days. In Moscow, the lowest temperature could touch -25⁰C and it could be quite depressing. This is where vodka takes its part in the Russians’ daily life. They are eager to get off of work or other routines so they can wrap the day up with some shots of vodka to make them feel better about the day.
4. Vodka is perfect for friends and colleagues
Back to the question we had way up there about whether vodka holds a deeper meaning than just a kind of spirit, the answer is YES. Vodka is a part of Russian culture. It always make an appearance in every special occasion or get-together whether formal or casual. It brings and ties people together and becomes a sign of closeness among them. Russians never take drinking vodka as a way to get massively drunk, which is why it has to be done after a toast – with a long and complex history to show how important the toast is to Russians. They usually say “Vashe zrodovye!” which means “To your health!” but it could be different depends on the occasion. In Russia, having vodka without a proper toast is nothing but alcoholism.
5. Vodka is considered healthier than any other spirits
Of course this is a great topic for a debate, but you wouldn’t want to have it with a Russian. They would promise you that vodka is the cleanest, purest spirit anyone could have. If you go to a supermarket in the country, you will find that the vodka shelf is longer than the mineral water. A Russian could buy three to four bottles of vodka in a day. Well, there is a scientific explanation behind all of these jaw-dropping facts. When processed really well, vodka will come out good and contains nothing but ethanol and water. If not, there will be traces of impurities like methanol. Good vodka is the one that has no taste, color, or smell. This is the type of spirit that is considered “healthy” by most people – especially Russians. It causes no hangover even if drunk in a large amount (well, it depends on each person’s threshold too, actually.) There is even a story that says that a Russian doctor would only allow vodka to be drunk by his patients after a surgery and such due to its purity. It may sound crazy, but you can ask around for proofs.
6. Vodka could be really cheap
There are many brands of vodka sold around the world. The term that says “with the price comes the quality” is true for this case. Good vodka could be quite pricey, but cheap vodka is everywhere. A bottle of vodka could be split among friends and everyone would still get the strong hit just like if it isn’t shared. Cheap and strong are among the key words that make vodka popular among the Russians.
Now you know why Russians love drinking vodka; because it is more than just liquor. It has history and culture in every bottle that should be honored as an identity of a nation. If you want to understand the true value of vodka, drink it the way Russians drink their spirit.