Vodka is a clear distilled liqueur made of mainly ethanol and water. The distilled beverage lacks any distinctive color, smell or taste. Traditionally, vodka is said to have been made from fermented potatoes, mainly for medicinal purposes, and other items such as corn, soy, grapes and beets. Although today vodka is made mainly from grain i.e. wheat, barley and rye, it is not uncommon to find some vodka made of potatoes.
The history of vodka is not exactly known, although it is believed to have originated in Russia and Poland regions around the 14th - 16th centuries. The word Vodka is believed to originate from the Russians, which construes "little water". Depending on who is making Vodka, it will possess varied characteristics and alcohol contents. The most common alcohol content of Vodka however is 40% (80 proof), but the content will always vary where you can find 50% (100 proof) or 20% (40 proof).
The 40% alcohol content is as a result of many reasons, but mainly because of the historical Russian standards for Vodka where Alexander III stipulated. Most countries later on embraced the set percentage, partly because spirits with 40% alcohol content are favorably taxed. Of importance to note, vodka with strength below 40%, which will be drunk neat i.e. with no ice nor any other liquids, the consumers will find the drink very 'watery'. On the other hand, strengths of more than 40% may give the vodka consumer a more 'burn taste'.
Traditionally, Vodka is supposed to be drunk neat. But being the essential spirit that it is, vodka has become a very popular and ideal base constituent for many mixed drinks, cocktails and virtually all alcoholic beverages today. Vodka has the ability to pair perfectly with virtually anything. Mixed drinks such as Vodka Martinis, Blood Marys, the vodka tonic, the white Russian, and Screwdrivers are few of the many drinks that are as a result of being combined with vodka.
Flavoring vodka started long ago, probably when the drink started being manufactured. Vodka is flavored for many reason, but mainly for health reasons and chaste enjoyment. Adulterated vodka is today very famous, which will contain a blend of colorings, flavorings, sweeteners and fruit juices. Since in most parts vodka is not heavily filtered, the smell, color and flavors from the source ingredient will be felt.
The most famous flavoring is pepper vodka, which was originally done in Russia. Fruits and spice flavors are also available ranging from orange to grapefruit, tangerine, lemon, lemon-lime, lime, raspberry, blueberry, strawberry, vanilla, cherry, black currant, coffee, cinnamon, chocolate, peach, passion fruit, pear, cranberry, plum, pomegranate, banana, coconut, melon, mint, pineapple, mango, buffalo grass, rose and the all new sensation the acai.
Like all other alcoholic beverages, excessive consumption of vodka can be lethal and of course harmful to health. It is known to cause digestive irritation and dehydration, of course the natural properties of ethanol. By and large, this distilled beverage is the perfect vessel to hold all other liquids because of its high content of alcohol and no apparent color, taste or smell.
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