The word vodka means "small water" in Russian. It's undoubtedly one of the world's most well-known and commonly consumed distilled alcoholic beverages. In addition, it has earned popularity in the cocktail market because of its versatility.

This colourless liquor undergoes treatment with charcoal and other substances during and after distillation. This gives it a unique feature, an almost complete lack of flavour. As a result, one sip of vodka is all it takes to recognise this particular spirit. In Europe, vodka must have an alcohol concentration of at least 37.5% and at least 40% in the United States, but the proportion might vary depending on the type of vodka.

The Origin

The earliest recognised manufacturing of vodka in Russia started in the 9th century. However, the most known distillery initially at Khylnovsk didn’t start running for the next two hundred years, according to the Vyatka Chronicle of 1174. Poland claims to have first distilled vodka in the eighth century. The first recognised Polish vodkas were named 'gorzalka' and were initially employed as remedies in the 11th century.

Distilled liquor was mainly utilised for medicinal purposes during the Middle Ages and used to make gunpowder. A British Ambassador to Moscow initially characterised vodka as the Russian national drink in the 14th century, and it became the national drink of Poland and Finland in the mid-16th century. According to the Novgorod Chronicles of 1533, vodka was widely used as a medicine in Russia (zhiznennia voda, or "water of life").

Russia developed various types of 'vodka,' or 'hot wine,' as it was known in ancient times. Because early distillation methods were primitive, vodka typically contained contaminants, so distillers used fruit, herbs, and spices to hide them.

Pot distillation initially appeared in Russia in the mid-fifteenth century. Seasoning, ageing, and freezing were all employed to eliminate impurities before that, as was precipitation with isinglass ('karluk') from sturgeon air bladders.

The first step in making vodka was distillation, precipitation with isinglass, milk, or egg white.

The presence of Russian soldiers fighting in the Napoleonic Wars in various regions of Europe aided the spread of vodka awareness throughout the nineteenth century. As the product's popularity grew, so did the demand for it. After previous attempts to limit output by reducing the number of distilleries from 5,000 to 2,050 between 1860 and 1890 failed, a law was passed in 1894 to establish a state monopoly on the manufacturing and distribution of vodka in Russia.

This was done for financial reasons and to stem the tide of drunkenness brought on by the cheap, mass-produced 'vodkas,' both imported and made at home.

The word vodka was only legally and formally recognised at the end of the nineteenth century when all state distilleries adopted a consistent production technique and thus guaranteed quality. Many different types of agricultural products can be used to make vodka. It is also made using potatoes or rice in Eastern Europe.

Vodka Today

Despite being the older drink, vodka took far longer to gain popularity in Western society than gin. However, following the 1917 Russian Revolution, several Russian immigrants spread their skills and their love of vodka over the globe.

However, vodka did not gain widespread popularity in the West until the 1960s and 1970s, when many different brands were introduced in the United States and the United Kingdom. Vodka's 'mixability' (together with the attractiveness of some humorous and brilliant advertising) led to its immense and ever-growing popularity, which continues today.

Vodka cocktails are virtually as popular as gin drinks, and they can be found in the same exclusive circles and trendy venues all over the world.