Vodka and Where it Comes From
Traditionally this is supposed to have originated in the 12th century, in the Russian fort of Viatka. The name was originally ‘zhiznennia voda’ (water of life) and the word ‘vodka’ or ‘wodka’ means ‘little water’. Vodka is pure spirit subjected, in the process of its manufacture, to filtration which removes certain oils and congenerics. As it is these last that can give other spirits, such as brandy, their charm but also their potentially undesirable after-effects if taken in excess, vodka has the reputation of being a ‘safer’ drink, in spite of its high alcoholic degree. There are various sorts of vodkas, some flavoured with herbs and peels, but although these are popular in Russia, vodka in other countries is usually flavourless. There are different qualities, as well as different strengths, the Polish type being highly esteemed.
Vodka should always be served iced and the spirit, when poured, should give a slightly oily look to the glass. It is a drink which enhances the eating of little appetisers, such as the traditional Russian ‘zakuski’ (hors d’oeuvres) and, by its very neutrality, cleanness and strength, stimulates the sense of taste and appetite without impinging on what is being eaten. It is also used in many widely drunk cocktails, notably the ‘Bloody Mary’ (vodka and tomato juice) and ‘Moscow Mule’ (vodka and ginger-ale).