From The Medical Vodka To The Grey Goose !
Remember James Bond’s favorite drink? Yup, its Vodka or rather a Vodka Martini - shaken not stirred. Gin and Vodka, are very modern drinks - particularly with the popularity of fashionable cocktail bars in all the major cities around the world. So lets see how these two famous spirits came into being.
It’s easy to assume you know enough about vodka. The spirit is fairly straightforward- colorless, lower in flavor if not always quite flavorless, high-test and mixer-friendly and is one of those drinks everyone has simply because it’s easy to order. But let's try to understand the this spirit more.
The History of Vodka
Earlier, vodka was used as a medicine than an enjoyable drink. Prescribed internally as a tonic and externally as a lotion, it was a cure all for things like skin ailments, fatigue and to prevent early labor (it was only 14 percent alcohol back then, so equal to drinking a glass of wine).
Origin of modern vodka can be traced to the Poland and Russia. These two countries are in a disagreement to this day, trying to determine who was first to create this iconic drink. The word Vodka comes from the translation of water in Russian - Voda, whereas, the Polish refer it as to any white distilled drink. This spirit was born in the Middle Age and produced from potatoes and had medicinal purposes. It was very common in Russia because it was an effective remedy against the cold weather.
Interestingly, monks were the first to develop this distillate and farmers began to drink vodka in the eighth century in Russia. However it was during the Russian Revolution, where some Russians escape to Europe and they bought their "voda"with them. It was during the Second World War when vodka reached the hands of the North Americans.
Making Vodka !
Vodka can be distilled from any type of sugar-free or sugar-rich plant materials. Most vodka today is produced from grains, such as white or yellow maize, barley, wheat or rye. Some types of vodka are made from potato, soy beans, grapes, etc.
Whether one type of grain or a mixture of grains is used, it should first be heated until boiled and then the heat should be decreased gradually and the mixture should be left to cool down slowly. The same applies to potato and maize as they are cleaned and put in water on fire. The mixture is then put in airtight containers and left to ferment for 3-5 days. The mixture is occasionally stirred. Sometimes, yeast is added later and the mixture is stirred and kept in a room with a temperature of 27-29°. After that, it is the distillation process.
The mixture is then transferred to a distillery and the temperature is raised during the distillation process to 78°. The more the mixture is heated, the more the materials vaporize and condense and the toxic and bad materials are removed. The main (first) distillation is considered responsible for directing vodka distillation. Based on that distillation, it is later determined whether there is a need for a second or third distillation. Distillation makes the ethanol level higher than acceptable, its percentage may reach 95-96%. So vodka is usually diluted with water to decrease this percentage.
Filtration is carried out before adding any flavor in the US and Europe. This process is often carried out during or after distillation through an active-coal filter or other means to absorb any unwanted flavor or taste that may change the vodka flavor. This process may also increase the vodka clarity. The countries that produce vodka as a tradition, such as Poland and Russia, do not use this technique where fine distillation is preferred to preserve the unique flavor and properties of this product.
There are some types of vodka to which other flavors are added like ginger, fruit, vanilla, chocolate, cinnamon, cherry or apple flavors. In Russia, honey and pepper are added which is a very popular flavor. In Poland, bison grass is added. Vodka is usually not left to age. Vodka is considered an economical drink as it is easily made during a short period from available materials.
[caption id="attachment_169" align="alignnone" width="1920"] Different brands of Vodka around the world. Image by Marissa Hagerman.[/caption]
Vodka is often consumed straight and cold. It is swallowed in one gulp. No sipping allowed. The night is not considered over until all the bottles of vodka are empty. Vodka is often consumed with a chaser, often juice. Many beer drinkers add a shot of vodka to their pints. “Na Zdorovie!” known as Cheers! in English is the phrase used by Russians to toast before taking a shot of vodka. Vodka is produced in India by very few brands. Vodka brands consumed by Indian population are - Grey Goose, Absolut, Smirnoff, Eristoff, Wodka Gorbatschow, Belvedere, White Mischief, Romanov, etc.
Vodka Today !
Today, vodka is of the most popular spirits in the world when it comes to happy hour, but that doesn’t mean it has lost all of its health benefits. In moderation, vodka can do some amazing things. It’s a great disinfectant, antitoxin and an impressive antiseptic, stress reducer, heals arthritis, reduces hypertension and aids digestion. So what do you say, “Na Zdorovie!?"
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