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The History of Vodka Cocktails and its Unknown Esteemed Inventor
It’s unclear who invented vodka. Russia and Poland see themselves as the birthplace of vodka, but the exact origin is difficult to trace. The first written evidence of vodka production in Sandomierz, Poland, dates back to 1405. A little later, the Swedes also began to produce vodka.
Vodka Composition (and Why Vodka is Good for Cocktails)
Vodka differs from other spirits mainly because of its almost neutral taste and the absence of “fuselols” (a byproduct of alcoholic fermentation, also called fusel alcohols) and aromas. It’s as clear as water, and the word vodka means “little water” in Slavic, so it’s not surprising that they drink it as an accompaniment to meals in Russia or Poland.
Vodka is good for cocktails because its unique properties and alcohol content of at least 37.5 percent by volume makes it the ideal basis for mixed drinks.
Depending on the manufacturer and region, different raw materials are used as the basis for vodka production. Unlike whiskey or beer, the standards of vodka identity only state that it must be made from distilled neutral spirits or treated with charcoal after distillation so that it has no scent, color or flavor. Basically, US law says vodka should look like nothing, taste like nothing and smell like nothing.
Besides the traditional grain, potatoes, sugar molasses and other fermentable, organic ingredients are also used. But high-quality vodkas value the fact that they are made from 100% grain.
Even though vodka should remain flavorless, the different types of grain do impact the taste and character of the vodka. Potato-based vodkas have even more variances in flavor than grain vodkas. To identify the differences, taste your chosen vodkas neat and at room temperature.
The water that vodka manufacturers use to reduce vodka to drinking strength after distillation also plays an important role — after all, water makes up around 60% of the ingredients. To not alter the clear and pure taste of the vodka, this water must also be free of odor and flavor distinctions.
Have you ever gone on vacation or visited a friend in another state and tried the tap water? It probably tasted different because the water tastes different everywhere you go. That’s why leading vodka brands like to advertise that they use pure glacier water or filter their spring water with great care.
How the Experts Make Vodka
First, a mash is prepared from water and grain (or another raw material, e.g., potatoes) and heated. Then, after adding yeast, the fermentation process begins, and an alcoholic mixture is created, initially with a relatively low alcohol content of around 6% to 7% by volume.
This mixture is then distilled several times, increasing the alcohol content and quality. A unique feature of vodka production is the subsequent filtering. The vodka should be as tasteless as possible, which is achieved by carefully filtering it with activated carbon. Fuselol is eliminated as much as possible during this process, creating vodka without any hint of flavor.
Subsequent storage with maturation (such as whiskey in oak barrels) is unnecessary for vodka. Instead, they can bottle it shortly after production.
Popular Vodka-Based Cocktails
While people in Eastern Europe like to drink it straight, vodka is popular here in the US because of its neutral taste, especially as an alcohol additive for cocktails.
The vodka boom in the western world began with the invention of the Moscow Mule drink. This was launched in the US in the 1940s by the vodka brand Smirnoff. The drink is made of vodka, ginger beer, lime and ice and is traditionally served in a copper cup.
These popular vodka-based recipes prove why vodka is good for cocktails.
In the 1990s, no one could ignore the cult series Sex and the City. The show focuses on New York City columnist Carrie Bradshaw and her three best friends dealing with men and asking the never-ending question, “Is this the perfect outfit?” Sex and the City also made the Cosmopolitan cocktail famous. This peach Cosmo cocktail recipe is a variation made with peach vodka.
- 50 ml peach-flavored
- 20 ml Cointreau
- 30 ml Cranberry juice
- 20 ml lime juice
As with a regular Cosmopolitan, stir together the peach vodka, Cointreau, cranberry juice and lime juice with plenty of ice. Strain into a martini glass or cocktail glass and garnish with a peach slice. Cheers!
No, this isn’t the kind of slumber party Bloody Mary you chant into a mirror five times on a dare, although its name is based on a dark legend from the 17th century. (Bloody Mary was allegedly a Massachusetts woman named Mary Jane who met her demise by being burned as a witch.) Besides being a creepy tale, this popular vodka-based cocktail is one of the most famous hangover cocktails.
- 40 ml vodka
- 20 ml lemon juice
- 10 ml tomato juice
- Spices (celery salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, or similar)
First, stir the vodka, tomato juice and fresh lemon juice in a mixing glass. Then round off this mixture with spices of your choice. A few classics like celery salt or Worcestershire sauce are pretty much used in every Bloody Mary recipe. You can also add Tabasco, pepper or wasabi, depending on how spicy you like your hangover cures. Top your Bloody Mary with ice cubes and stir well. Then strain the cocktail into a tumbler. Finally, garnish with a peeled stick of celery and a few olives.
Bonus tip: The beauty of the Bloody Mary is that you can also serve it in large quantities, like sangria or punch. It’s the perfect drink for every party!
We’re finishing our history of vodka cocktails and must-have vodka cocktail recipes with the swimming pool drink. The Swimming Pool is our grand finale and is one of the best arguments for why vodka is good for cocktails.
The Swimming Pool is one of the fancier drinks among cocktails with vodka. It was created in a bar in Munich and has similarities to the well-known Piña Colada (which literally translates to “strained pineapple” in Spanish). You will replace part of the rum with vodka for this particular cocktail. The Swimming Pool is also super easy and quick to make.
- 30 ml vodka
- 30 ml rum
- 30 ml pineapple juice
- 45 ml sweetened condensed milk or cream
- A splash of Blue Curaçao
Pour all ingredients into a shaker, shake vigorously, and pour over ice. Alternatively, put ice cubes in a highball glass and then strain the cocktail through a strainer or sieve. Serve with a pineapple wedge and a drinking straw.
Why is vodka good for cocktails? We just gave you three amazing reasons. Have fun trying our favorite vodka cocktails, and don’t forget to pepper in all your new knowledge of the history of vodka the next time you’re having a drink with friends!