Culture

Celebrating National Vodka Day !

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For those of you unaware, October 4th is National Vodka day, and not everyday at 5 pm contrary to popular belief. For some of you I’m sure there has been  a circle around this day in your calendars for quite some time. Chances are the last time you went out to your favorite drinking establishment, the popular mixing spirit was flowing heavily. Vodka has been the main beneficiary of the popularity that came with the advancement of cocktail mixology over the last two decades. Been to a package store lately? You now have approximately 300 brands to choose from. Here’s a brief history lesson to keep you educated while planning how you will spend this wonderful and highly under rated holiday.

Vodka is the worlds most consumed spirit, accounting for a quarter of worldwide spirits sales. Three billion liters are sold each year. The name “vodka” is a diminutive form of the Slavic word voda (water), interpreted as little water. It’s origin can be traced back to Russia and Poland, both of which claim it’s creation. Prior to the mid 1950’s the spirit was rarely consumed outside of Eastern Europe and was originally introduced as a way to combat illness

Vodka is the easiest and cheapest spirit to produce, and with so many competitors in the market companies are constantly working to create the next big thing in the industry, thus the explosion of the flavored vodka market. Chocolate, whipped cream, blueberry, cranberry-lemonade, and cucumber are just some to name a few in a category that is getting larger and stranger everyday. There are even salmon and bacon flavored vodkas going into production as we speak. Soon we’ll be able to have a complete seven course meal completely in liquid form. For all of you anti flavored vodka fanatics, don’t worry, the “odorless”  and “tasteless” neutral spirit is still the main seller. The irony though is that anyone who truly believes vodka is odorless and tasteless isn’t into ultra premium vodkas. With a good vodka, you can taste the complexities that make it differ from one another. While most prefer to drink vodka iced cold, for  tasting purposes it is best served at room temperature.

Enough history lessons, how about some drinks? Below I’ve provided a few of my favorite vodka brands, in no particular order as well as some excellent recipes to get your holiday started.

Ciroc – (France)- $32- Grapes based- 5 times distilled. Nice nose, lemon, lime, citrus, almond, fruity, nutty, pepper, lemon lollipop, crisp, intense, light, pleasant, spicy, long finish.
Stoli Elite (Russia)- $60– Wheat & Rye based- 4 distillations. Freeze filtered. Balanced, smooth, burns, easy drinking, hard to drink, good finish.
Belvedere (Poland)- $35– Gold rye based, artesian well water- 4 distillations. Smooth, clean, light, balanced, anise, pepper, white pepper, grain, intense, vanilla, full bodied, long, silky finish.
Russian Standard (Russia)- $25 – Smooth, sweet finish, rough, clean, intense, exciting, classic.
Van Gogh (The Netherlands)- $28– Wheat, corn & barley- three distillations. Clean, smooth, bitter, complex, spice, fire, biting, rich, intense.
Svedka (Sweden)- $16– Winter wheat based, spring water- 5 distillations. Light, clean, soft, very fine, perky, smooth, crisp, feminine, grain, vanilla, spicy, dusty, peppery, sweet, berries, nutty, peppers, medium bodied, hot finish.
Sobieski (Poland)- $12- Rye based, spring water- 8 times distilled. Subtle, smooth, clean, delicate, almond oil, vanilla, peppery, sweet, anise, mineral, metallic, medium bodied, hot, spicy finish.
Ketel One (The Netherlands)- $26– Wheat based. Clean finish, anise, vegetal, smooth, intense, soft & subtle, neutral, bitter.

Madras

1 1/2 oz Vodka
4 oz Cranberry
1 oz of Orange Juice
1 Lime wedge
Pour all ingredients into a highball glass over ice. Add the lime wedge and serve

Moscow Mule

2 oz Vodka
2 oz of fresh lime juice
8 oz of Ginger Ale (or Ginger Beer)
Add all ingredients together over ice and serve.

Caipiroska

1 1/2 oz Vodka
1/2 of a lime cut into 4 wedges
2 Teaspoons of sugar
Place the lime wedges at the bottom of an 8 oz glass, pour sugar over top and muddle ingredients. Add ice and pour vodka over ingredients. Serve.

Try some of the Absolut Pitcher recipes here courtesy of Absolut.com. Special thanks toTheFiftyBest.com, a great resource on current vodka brand in the market.

Bookmark me on Facebook/Intoxicology101 or Follow me on Twitter.com/TheProDrinker to stay updated on current and upcoming reviews & recipes.

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Alex is a full time consultant with 10+ years experience in the wine & spirits + consumer packaged goods industries. He is not a professional bartender, but is BarSmarts certified and makes a mean caipirinha. When not writing, Alex can be found traveling, spending time with his family, or bar hopping.

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