Bread wine – the ancestor of vodka
From the XVI up to the XIX century 'bread wine' was considered to be a Russian traditional alcoholic beverage. This term united different liqueurs, "nalivkas" and "nastoykas" – distilled products based on rye, where its production process was similar to whisky's technology. Thanks to such ingredients as anise, raspberry, mint, wormwood, caraway, and other bread wine became very popular.
Birthday of modern vodka
At the end of the XIX century, the Russians got acquainted with modern vodka prototype, called 'table wine'. It appeared thanks to the imported equipment for the production of pure alcohol. So-called 'table wine' gained popularity when the government introduced the monopoly for alcohol production. The official birthday vodka celebrated later on January, 23 in 1936, when the Soviet government approved the standard for vodka. Since then this transparent beverage, blend of ethanol and water (filtered with the help of activated carbon) of 38-40 % ABV has been called vodka.
Vodka and Russian snack table
The peculiarity of Russian vodka is that this beverage can be drunk during the whole feast. It leads us to another tradition, which is called in Russian – 'zakusochnyi stol' (snack table).The most popular Russian snacks are "herring under the fur coat", Russian salad, pickles, toasts with wurst, caviar, backon-fat, marinated tomatoes and mushrooms, sauerkraut, aspics ('zalivnoje' or 'holodets' jelly dishes on the base of fish or meat).
Before drinking vodka you should first breathe out and then drink it quickly in one gulp. Then you should have a good snack, taking into account vodka's strength.
Myths and truth about vodka
There is a common stereotype among foreigners that all Russian people like vodka. Actually it isn't true. A lot of Russians prefer cognac, brendi and whisky or vodka-based cocktails. There are a lot of myths about vodka itself. Some people think that Dmitry Mendeleev, renowned Russian chemist, invented some special formula of it, while actually he worked on the interaction of ethanol and water.
There’s a popular saying “frontovye sto gramm' ( frontline 100 grams), which reminds us of World War II when soldiers drank 100 grams of vodka every day to raise the spirit. In later years it became a norm only for some privileged soldiers on the front line.
You can join our vodka tasting tour and learn about Russian drinking traditions. Your Moscow tour guide can help you to find some good brands of vodka in Russian supermarkets. A very nice shop to visit is Eliseevsky grocery store which can be easily included in your 3-day tour of Moscow.