Vodka is an unquestionably popular spirit and is enjoyed worldwide. In Eastern Europe and the Nordic countries it is usually drunk neat, but globally it is almost always mixed, often in cocktails.
The word “vodka” derives from the Slavic “voda”, meaning water, and the earliest record of the term “vodka” was in 1405, in a set of Polish court documents – placing it alongside medicines and cosmetics. The Russians too have ancient records of vodka, and a number of early pharmaceutical lists reference the “vodka of bread wine”.
Before the 1950s, vodka was scarcely consumed outside of Europe. Its burgeoning regard was such that by 1975 in America, vodka sales had surpassed those of bourbon. One of the reasons for its incredible popularity is that it is not so strongly flavoured as whisky, or rum, and can be mixed with pretty much anything, It has also been the subject of a number of successful ad campaigns, which boast its purity, and often focus on the filtration, and numerous distillations used to neutralize and purify its flavour.
Vodka can be distilled from any plant matter with enough starch and natural sugars for fermentation to take place. The most popular bases for vodka are grains such as corn, rye and wheat – the latter are considered to be superior.
Potatoes can be used (in the case of Chase Vodka), as are molasses, sugar beets and grapes (famously used to make the French vodka, Ciroc).