Posted in Kafevend Blog

Today marks the last of our Christmas spirits series, though today's is certainly by no means the least as we take a look at vodka. Whilst it may not be great in a regular cup of coffee, it appears in a number of cocktails which you might like to try- or are already planning to enjoy- on New Year's Eve.

Historians have put the creation of vodka as far back as the 8th century in Poland, though a sparsity of evidence from these times makes nailing down its origin rather difficult and subject to debate. Whether or not it was first made in Poland, the country at least has the claim to fame as the first place to have written evidence of the word vodka, which appeared in a court document at the beginning of the 15th century. It was originally regarded as a medicinal drink; though possibly in the same way that gin was touted as such during the gin craze in Britain during the 18th century.

Whilst many think of vodka as a predominantly Russian spirit, it has been the staple alcohol of choice for a number of other countries. Including the Baltic and Nordic states along with Poland, Belarus and Ukraine, this grouping is sometimes referred to as the vodka belt. In recent years however, countries like Poland, Sweden and Norway have bucked the trend and beer is increasingly, if not the top, alcoholic beverage of choice. Even in Russia itself beer has seen a surge in consumption, though it is yet to outpace vodka.

When it comes to making vodka, most folks would probably interject at this point with "it's made of potatoes, isn't it?"- and they would be right, for those potato based vodkas. It turns out however that vodka can be made with a wide array of plants, from the commonly used grains such as rye and wheat to things like the aforementioned pototato, molasses, rice and even the byproducts of wood pulp processing! Like the drive to protect brands such as Cognac and Scotch whisky, there is a push to limit the name vodka to those spirits made strictly using grains, potato or sugar beet. One of the defining characteristics of vodka is the use of filtration in the production process in order to remove impurities. Combined with multiple distillations, vodkas can consist of as much as 96% ethanol at the end of processing. Obviously it wouldn't be a good idea to sell it at this concentration, so it is watered down before bottling.

With New Year's Eve in a few days, you might be on the look out for some drinks to try. Tying in nicely with coffee are the black and white Russian cocktails, which you may well have heard of but not known what they are- wonder no more! A black russian is made using a mix of vodka and coffee liqueur with ice. A white russian simply adds a helping of cream- if either sounds interesting, just go online for a recipe.

We hope you've found this blog interesting. Look out for more in the new year!

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