The versatile, once virtually tasteless and odorless tipple accounts for almost 20 to 25 per cent of spirits sold today in North America, making it our most popular libation, a feat that occurred in the 1970s when it outpaced bourbon as America’s favorite spirit. We raise our glass on October 4 to toast National Vodka Day!
While October 4th seems well documented as National Vodka Day, we have not found the origins of why, but it works for us. No harm celebrating responsibly on other days as well.
Celebrating with Flavors & Choices
Hard to believe that vodka was often called flavorless and that the biggest debate was “Shaken vs. Stirred”.
Vodka fusion, the art of fusing your own flavors into regular vodka, used to be the best way (and a fun way) to get flavored vodka. It’s still a fun way, but you would be hard pressed to come up with an original flavor any more….
Care for a little vodka with that flavor? With dozens to choose from thanks to increasing demand you’d be hard pressed not to find a wide assortment of flavored vodkas these days. Given that the spirit is virtually flavorless and odorless, it makes sense that distillers would want to inject some yum factor into this top-selling Soviet-inspired libation.
Naturally, thanks to free enterprise, we have an assortment of wild and wacky flavors to mention starting with maple syrup, root beer float, s’mores, PB & J and – an obvious homage to the breakfast cereal Fruit Loops – Loopy. More savory but no less sweet versions include smoked salmon, chili peppers, bacon, espresso, cucumber, rose and buttered popcorn.
A Flavor Range from Salmon to Marshmallow
A list of some of the new, wild flavors you can now look for on the shelf of your favorite retailer to toast National Vodka Day! Not a complete list – In just five years 115 new flavored vodkas have been introduced according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS). ….and you need to check for availability in your area, but they are all real!
Smoked Salmon www.alaskadistillery.com
Fluffed Marshmallow www.smirno.com
Cookie Dough www.pinnaclevodka.com
Peanut Butter & Jelly www.vangoghvodka.com
Orange Cream, Whipped Cream www.burnettsvodka.com
Cotton Candy, Whipped, Chocolate Whipped www.pinnaclevodka.com
Chili Pepper www.absolut.com
Root Beer www.threeolives.com
Cupcake, Devil’s Food www.cupcakevodka.com
Have a Little Celebrity with Your Vodka
Because celebrities need to be seen and positioning your vodka with a personality is good for business, celebs such as Justin Timberlake, Puff Daddy and Bruce Willis have been endorsing various brands of premium vodkas. The deal Puff Daddy inked with beverage giant Diageo for Ciroc vodka could make him more ridiculously rich than he already is.
Dan Aykroyd may be the first celebrity to manufacture his own vodka, an additive-free product made in Newfoundland that’s quadrupled distilled and filtered seven times, the final three times through diamond crystals. The bottle is distinctive for its clear-glass human skull shape.
A Little History to go Along With the Toast!
The word vodka stems from the Russian word, voda, which means water. Rarely consumed outside of Europe before the Second World War, vodka would eventually draw many hard liquor fans with its flavorless and versatile appeal.
Today, vodka is made from many different things such as beets, potatoes, wheat and even grapes. The final product doesn’t depend on the ingredients so much as it depends on the methods of production. You’re unlikely to be able to taste the difference, since by law vodka is not even permitted to have a distinctive taste except for those that have been added in after distillation.
Because it’s filtered of many dangerous chemicals and has less of an after-effect on the body, many view vodka as one of the least dangerous alcoholic beverages. Still, thanks to an alcohol volume that ranges from 35 to 60 per cent, it is one of the more potent drinks, able to intoxicate quickly and effectively.
Ironically, unlike the drink itself, it’s not really clear where vodka was created, though many associate the clear drink with Russia. Its birthplace has also been linked to the grain-growing regions that surround Poland, Ukraine, Belarus as well as Finland and other Scandinavian countries. Still, it’s said that the taxation on vodka in Russia helps cover a large portion of the government’s revenue. The fact that vodka consumption in Russia is greater than any other country in the world must help must help.
The birthdate of vodka is pegged at around the 12th century. Made initially for medical purposes, it wasn’t until the 1350s that the drink gained a reputation for its intoxicating properties.
In Russia, people believed the drink held its own spirit and it was used at religious ceremonies and events. A vessel sometimes containing more than a gallon of vodka would be passed around and those who refused to drink would be considered sinful. By the 1600s, it was custom to drink vodka at Russian Imperial banquets, where all meals started with bread and vodka.
During Czar Peter’s reign there was a custom that each foreign ambassador attending the courtyard should drink the ‘Cup of the White Eagle,’ a nice euphemism for this drink of vodka, which totaled a whopping litre-and-a-half of the tipple.
The Martini Debate
History has seen its share of great debates: Kennedy versus Nixon, Coke versus Pepsi and then, of course, in the world of martinis, there’s Vodka versus Gin.
Booze nerds will debate till the end of time which libation is best in the classic cocktail popularized by the likes of James Bond and M*A*S*H’s Hawkeye Pierce. And once they’ve settled that score, they can begin all over again on whether your martini should be shaken or stirred.
The original martini was a gin concoction, stirred not shaken, so as not to bruise the gin. But James Bond ordered his shaken not stirred, and would eventually order vodka martinis, a directive that 007 creator Ian Fleming could never have predicted would stir up the cocktail world.
Although the original Russian Vodka Martini is still popular, colorful, flavored vodka martinis are a big trend among younger drinkers, as well as the vodka veterans. Unlike gin, vodka has a neutral flavor which allows it to easily mix with other flavors to make a wide variety of flavored martinis.