All this talk about Russia can make one thirsty. How can you think about Russia and not let your mind and taste buds wonder towards #Vodka? Vodka is a liquor you cannot dismiss. So while you are sampling the better parts of what America has to offer in the liquor department, you might want to try something exotic too. Bottoms up, or "Na zdrowie", that's Polish, or "vashe zrodovye" when you want to go with a Russian toast are the ways to express your toast. Whichever way you want to toast, vodka is a great drink to use.

History

The name vodka evolved from the word 'voda', a Slavic word which literally means 'water.' That doesn't help us know where vodka actually comes from.

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Some speculate that the production of vodka happened in Russia around the ninth century. Others say that vodka happened around the eighth century in Poland. It doesn't really matter, because now vodka is made in the United States, Russia, Poland and the European "vodka belt.". These days vodka is one of the most popular spirits in America. Vodka outsells rum, tequila and gin combined.

How is it made?

Vodka was traditionally made from potatoes, corn or grains. Now it is made from a range of bases, including grapes, soybeans and maple syrups. It is produced in a high volume, continuous still and the distilling process for vodka is called column distilling. In column distilling, the mash or wash is continuously injected into the column, with steam constantly rising up. The steam is programmed to be at the perfect temperature to strip alcohol from the wash and leave any undesired compounds behind as it rises up through the column.

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Column distilling requires no cleaning between batches because the structure of the columns allows for efficient, repeated distilling. Column distilling results in more neutral, higher ABV (alcohol by volume). This distilling process is also responsible for the 40 percent ABV because it separates alcohol from water using evaporation and condensation.

Is there a difference?

Vodka is a neutral spirit and therefore is without a distinctive smell, taste or color. The most popular vodkas, the grain-based ones tend to be smooth and sometimes can have a fruity taste. The vegetable based vodkas are often harsh and medicinal.

Medicinal you say?

Vodka has no carbohydrates and is sugar-free. And if that isn't enough to make you want to grab a cocktail here are some other health benefits that are attributed to vodka:

  • Vodka helps in decreasing the stress factor in the body and it does it more efficiently than other liquors
  • It has sleep inducing properties that produce a calming effect on the brain
  • The drink can provide relief from toothaches
  • It can help relieve bad breath
  • It can be used in disinfecting wounds, and
  • promotes hair growth and healthy skin

Of course, vodka like any libation should be consumed in moderation.

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What vodkas will you consume?

#You Can pick your vodka by country of origin:

  • Grey Goose comes from France
  • Svedka arrives from Sweden
  • Belvedere is only produced in the Polish town of Zyrardow
  • Stolichnaya is from Russia
  • Ketel One arrives from Netherlands
  • Titos is produced in the United States

How will you consume your vodka?

It is true that with a really good vodka it can just be chilled and drunk as a shot but sometimes you just need a little more, so here are four more ways to consume vodka:

Vesper Martini

James Bond or "Casino Royale" anyone? The martini, of course, has been made popular by our favorite British spy, when shaken or stirred.

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 ounces of vodka
  • 1/2 ounce gin
  • 1/4 ounce Lillet Blanc

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker and add ice then stir or shake for about 11 seconds before straining into a chilled martini glass. Add lemon peel for garnish

Cosmopolitan

Sex in any city, anyone? This drink was made popular by four New York ladies, and like them is still a classic.

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 oz vodka (preferably citrus flavored)
  • 1/2 oz Cointreau
  • 1/2 oz cranberry juice
  • 1/4 oz fresh lime juice
  • orange twist

Add all ingredients (except orange twist) into a cocktail shaker and add ice. Then shake contents for about 11 seconds before straining into a chilled martini glass. It can be garnished with an orange twist.

Chocolate Cake Shot

Looking for a quick fix of sweetness and alcohol?

Ingredients

  • 2 oz vodka (preferably citrus flavored)
  • 2 oz Frangelico
  • 1 fresh lemon wedge
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Fill cocktail shaker with ice
  • Add vodka and Frangelico

Shake for about 11 seconds and then strain into a glass. Dip the lemon into sugar and then bite into the lemon before drinking the cocktail.

Moscow Mule

And for those who are following the trend, although traditionally served in a copper mug, you can also serve it in a Collins glass.

Ingredients

  • 2 oz vodka
  • 4 oz ginger beer
  • half a lime

Squeeze lime into Collins glass and then drop the lime into the bottom of the glass. Add ice to your preference and pour in the vodka. Fill the glass with ginger beer and drink.

Choose your vodka wisely and drink responsibly. Alcohol used in excess can be bad for your health and minors and pregnant women should not drink it. #Mix It Up