Vodka, an Eastern European spirit stems from the Russian word voda which means little water.
Polish Vodka is traced back to the 11th Century and was referred to as gorzalka. This translates to “to burn”. Hmm, how proper.
Today, it is more commonly called Woda in Poland.
I’m not so sure I like Wikipedia’s description of vodka where it states that it is made up of water and ethanol. Think I’ll steer clear of drinking vodka and maybe put some in my gas tank instead.
But really, it is fermented cereal grains, and sometimes, potatoes. Some brands use fruit or sugar.
In 1405, the first written mention of the word vodka comes from court documents from the Palatinate of Sandomierz in Poland. It refers to medicine while gorzalka was still meant as the distilled drink.
The Age of Vodka
In the fields of nearby towns, Freda, Lubichowo, and Osowo Leśne, the grain, specifically for their vodka, is grown. Rye is their specialty and has received a Gold medal for their product.
Despite all this greatness, the cost is very comparable to the ever popular Smirnoff.
A point of interest, if you’re in Poland, visit the largest castle in the world, the 14th Century Malbork Castle, near the Baltic Sea coast.
Also in Poland is the Wierzynek, a restaurant in Kraków, which showcases its long running heritage. The building originates back to the 1300’s!
On opening night in 1364, 5 kings and 5 princes attended the affair. It has maintained upper status ever since.
Smirnoff History in Short
Pyotr Smirnov began his distillery in Moscow in 1864 and labelled it as PA Smirnoff. He pioneered the charcoal method of distillation. His third son, Vladmir Smirnoff took over when Pyotr passed away in 1898 and made it a huge success. For awhile.
In 1904, Vladmir was forced to sell. He re-established the distillery in Constantinople in 1920 after having to flee Russia, escaping, luckily with his recipe, from an anti-alcohol campaign . He moved again to Poland and renamed the vodka, Smirnoff, the French spelling. A second factory opened in Paris in 1925 with marginal success. He joined with Rudolph Kunett but ran into financial trouble. Enter John Martin, of A1 Sauce fame who bought the rights to Smirnoff in 1939. Martin marketed the corn-based spirit as the “white whisky” with no taste and no smell.
They, too, use the charcoal method which they believe mellows the spirit and removes impurities.
Something to make note of: Regular Smirnoff is gluten-free whereas, the flavoured Smirnoff, all 31 of them, are not.
Żubrówka is a pale yellow vodka distilled from rye. Translated, it is Bison Grass Vodka. The Bison Grass is grown in Białowieża Forest, Poland.
Gotta love wikipedia. They have compiled a list of vodka, the country they’re from, and from what they are fermented.
I dare say, Canada has one of the coolest looking bottles in the list! You’ve probably seen it in your liquor store?
Wherever you are, there is likely a distillery nearby to try out for National Vodka Day.
Some may drink this spirit straight but personally, I prefer to mix it, especially in a Caesar.
Mix it up with almost anything! Cranberry juice, 7-UP, I hear Mountain Dew is quite good, too, lemonade, even throw some in your Sangria for an extra kick. Add a mix of pineapple and orange juice or each on their own. Not that I’m promoting it but Red Bull is a staple mix for it now. It does taste good but so not good for you for so many reasons. But that’s another blog….
The dangerous thing about mixing with vodka is how it sneaks up on you. It is virtually tasteless so you think you’re drinking juice, or whatever your mix is, then drink a ton of them. End of story. We know where THAT leads….to a day after hangover!
So please drink responsibly.
Posted by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe on October 4, 2017.