A Vodka History Lesson

A Vodka History Lesson

Interested in vodka and want to know all about its origins? Looking for a vodka history lesson? You’re in luck today. We’re bringing you the inside scoop. Sit back and take in all the vodka history you can handle!

There’s so much to learn about this amazing spirit. Its history is rich, and we’re excited to bring you all the deets we can dig up. Know this already: the next time you take a shot of this good stuff will be different. You’ll have knowledge that makes this elixir even sweeter.


Why the Title “Vodka?”

Here’s where our vodka history lesson begins. Why do we call it vodka? It comes from the Russian voda. That translates into our English word “water.” Basically, it was clear and looked like ordinary water. But oh, it was so much more magical. Further, the root meanings for the word “vodka” also relate to “burning.”

If you’ve tried it straight, then you know that’s just about right. Feel the burn!


What Is Vodka?

It wouldn’t be a vodka history lesson without a rundown of the spirit itself. It’s a clear liquor, and it’s super popular in cocktails. It’s made from water plus ethanol that’s usually distilled from fermented grain or potatoes.

We use it for mixed drinks because of its light flavor. The taste doesn’t overpower whatever we’re mixing with it. And its colorless form allows for other liquids, fruits, and more to determine a drink’s overall hues instead.

But there is a vodka flavoring process. And you’ll find that bartenders and mixologists around the globe use those flavored versions today. You’ll discover these flavors to be both fruity and spicy, adding sweet and heat elements to our cocktails.


Where Does Vodka Come From?

You might’ve guessed already. Vodka hails from Russia. Or is it Poland? Ukraine? Sweden? Norway? It depends on who you ask. Because many countries try to claim it as their own. The commonly accepted answers are either Russia or Poland.

It actually started out as medicine. Of course, that’s pretty common across the board when it comes to our favorite liquors. The Russians, at least, found it to be a super handy remedy and fertility treatment. Why? Because it didn’t freeze in the extremely cold temperatures.

We think 15th-century monks were responsible for distillation, initially. (But it could have gotten going as early as the 900s in home stills.) Then, farmers in the 1700s got ahold of the drink. That’s when it took off in Russia! It didn’t make its way to Europe until the Russian Revolution in 1917. Then WWII brought it to the U.S. and the rest of North America.

So, vodka is relatively new to us, here in the States. We’re still getting the hang of this gem and all its wonders. And if anybody needs a vodka history lesson, it’s us newbies over here. But we’re so very willing to learn, aren’t we?


How Is Vodka Made?

It all begins with a distillation process, which you can go about in a few ways. For vodka, you need starches. Or you can use sugary plants. So, we’re looking at corn, potatoes, wheat, rye, or even sorghum or molasses. We’ve also heard of distillers using sugar cane, grapes, beetroot, and a variety of fruits, really. Pretty much, if it ferments, it’s game. That said, most reach for wheat and rye.

Depending on where the vodka is made, it’ll sometimes contain specific ingredients. In some countries, they’ll vary the substances they’re using. After distilling, the vodka is then filtered. And these days, you’ll see more and more bottles that are flavored.


What Are Some Popular Vodka Cocktails?

The following have been enjoyed for years. And a vodka history lesson must include these basics. You’ve maybe even had one yourself.

  • Bloody Mary
  • Bullshot
  • Screwdriver
  • Black Russian
  • Vodka Martini


What Are Some Popular Brands of Vodka?

Today, you can grab a bottle of vodka at a liquor store and even some grocery stores. It’s always in stock and ready for you to enjoy.

  • Absolut
  • Smirnoff
  • Belvidere
  • Grey Goose
  • UV
  • Tito’s

2 Quick Facts About Vodka

This vodka history lesson ends with a few quick facts to carry with you!

1. Vladimir Smirnov sold his vodka’s brand name, Smirnoff, to Rudolph Kunnett. Smirnoff was then distilled in the United States. That was in 1934. This led to many vodka distilleries and brands all over America.

2. Russian Scientist Dmitri Mendeleev invented the periodic table of elements. He also invented the standard formula for vodka — 40 percent alcohol by volume.


Prestige Decanters and Vodka: Hand in Hand

Maybe you’re tricking out your home bar. Or you’re just making your way into our Prestige community. Perhaps you were simply searching for a vodka history lesson you could rely on. Whatever the reason you’re here, we’re happy you are. Before you leave, check out some of our favorites. We’ve got quite a lineup of unique decanters and flasks that’ll take your bar accessory collection to the next level.

We even have cigar holders! And tons more items that make wonderful gifts for your favorite vodka enthusiasts, whisky lovers, and tequila fans. No matter what you’re sipping, we’re here to serve you. And maybe even teach you a thing or two along the way.


Join the Conversation Below

Vodka can really bring people together when it’s enjoyed responsibly. And a vodka history lesson can be a conversation starter at any bar or home gathering. What’s your favorite vodka or vodka cocktail?