One of the more popular spirits available today is vodka, often served in a cocktail or martini or mixed with soft drink or juice this beverage has been a staple of British pubs and clubs. One of the best things about vodka is its versatility.
A vodka and orange is going to taste very different from a vodka and coke to give just one example. So, whatever your individual tastes are there is likely going to be a vodka-based drink out there that you’ll like. But let’s take a closer look at the history of vodka and see what more we can find out about this historic beverage.
If you asked 100 people where vodka originated I’ am guessing the majority would say Russia. Russia seems synonymous with vodka but it might not actually be the place where vodka was first created. There is a heavy debate between scholars over whether Russia or Poland was the country where vodka originated and there isn’t any clear answer.
But to be fair let’s look at what we do know. Vodka can be traced back to the middle ages in Poland with the first known recording of the name vodka being used in 1405. It was believed to be a medical tonic that could help with fertility although by the late 16th century it was being produced on a much larger scale as a beverage.
Eastern Poland which was controlled by Russia produced vodka during the 18th century as well and the first known distillery was opened in 1782. Although many more quickly followed, vodka blends have changed a lot throughout the years in Poland with some of the earliest being herbal drinks.
It is believed some of these early medical drinks were brought to Russia in the 1500s. Although there are records of vodka or at least an early form of it being available in Russia before this. So, now you know the Polish history about vodka let’s look at the Russian perspective.
According to legend, the first vodka recipe in Russia was created by a monk in 1430 which lead to the creation of a beverage known as bread wine. This beverage was exclusive to Moscow although it later spread throughout the country.
Interestingly this beverage was not actually called vodka till much later, vodka was a term used to describe medical drinks and tinctures in Russia and it wasn’t until the mid-1700’s that this drink was identified as vodka.
Around the mid-1800s vodka had become many Russian’s drink of choice and it has remained popular ever since. It hit its peak in 1911 when it made up nearly 90% of all alcohol sales and although levels aren’t quite as high now it is still a very popular beverage.
So, while there is unlikely to be an agreement on where exactly vodka as we know it today was first created I have to conclude that in my opinion, it doesn’t really matter. After all, there are plenty of popular Polish and Russian vodka brands and plenty of us still enjoy the drink don’t we?
An Introduction To Vodka
So, now you know a bit about vodka’s history let’s get down to the fun stuff and look at some of the best vodka-based drinks to try. If you are new to vodka it could be a little overwhelming has it is a very versatile beverage after all, but experimenting with different types is part of the fun.
While in the UK vodka is often mixed with another drink it can be served neat and this is, in fact, the traditional Russian way to drink it. It is very strong however and not usually recommended for first timers unless you are a fan of strong, unfiltered flavours.
Vodka and Orange
More commonly known as a screwdriver this is a popular way to drink vodka and isn’t overly sweet or exotic. There are many variations but it offers a soothing taste with a nice kick to it and is a great introductory drink if you are trying vodka for the first time.
Vodka and Apple Juice
Also known as an appletini this is a sharp and refreshing drink that fans of cider will love. It has a more powerful flavour when compared to vodka and orange and is again and a good first cocktail for beginners to vodka to try.
This a drink I’ am sure many people have heard of but I’ am guessing a lot of people don’t know it has vodka in it. A Bloody Mary as vodka, tomato juice, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and other assorted flavourings.
There are lots of variations but it usually offers a spicy flavour with the vodka being more subtle. Bloody Mary’s are said to be a great hangover cure and are popular for people looking for a more exotic cocktail.
That’s just four different ways to take this versatile beverage there are plenty more from sweeter White Russians to refreshing Sea Breezes. So, if you fancy trying vodka but feel a little lost take a good look at the drinks menu to see what takes your fancy.