Vodka is one of the most popular and versatile liquors in the world. The spirit can be drank neat, straight up, or chilled. You can mix it with ice, water, fruit, or any other beverage you can possibly imagine. It’s a straightforward liquor: colorless, flavor-less, and mixer-friendly.

What, Exactly, is Vodka?

The distillation of water and ethanol are the primary ingredients to producing Vodka. Other additives include fermented ingredients such as potatoes, fruits, sugars, or grains. Grains used to make this spirit include wheat, barley, rice, rye, and corn. The Coffey or column still system is responsible for its flavorless and adaptable attributes. This distilling process incorporates a column that runs through the system continuously. The process allows the alcohol to constantly circulate and consequently stripped of its impurities. However, different vodkas can display different flavor notes, fragrances, textures, and even sweetness. Raw materials used in the distillation process or the containers used to filter and store it can affect the subtle differences in taste and texture.

15 Little-Known Facts

It’s easy to assume you know everything there is to know about your favorite liquor. However, discovering intriguing facts about your preferred spirit will make your cocktail-sipping experience that much more exciting. We promise these fun facts will enlighten you to the distinct qualities of that simple vodka soda. There’s a lot more to vodka than we give it credit for!

  1. Vodka is one of the purest drinks in the world. It consists of not much else than ethanol diluted with water. It has no sugar, yeast, fat, sodium, carbs, or cholesterol.
  2. Most vodka is the result of the fermentation of potatoes or grains. However, the key ingredient is any sugar source, such as grapes or milk whey. The character of the base ingredient can impact the final product. For example, recipes using wheat are lighter, while those with whey and potato are creamier.
  3. Brands that produce vodka with alternative ingredients like corn or potatoes (instead of grains) is gluten free! Try the gluten free brand, Black River Distillery, and you’ll never never go back to wheat-fermented liquor again.
  4. Dieters can rejoice over the fact that one shot of vodka is only 90 calories. Meanwhile, a single beer may run you up 150 calories or more.
  5. Not only is it light on the calories, but it is actually lighter than water. One liter of water weighs about 1,000 grams while one liter of vodka weighs only 950 grams.
  6. The word “vodka” means water. Its Russian/Slavic origin word, “voda,” means “water.”
  7. The exact birthplace of vodka is a controversial topic in Eastern Europe, simply because no indisputable evidence has been found. Some claim it was first produced in Russia in the 9th century. On the other side, Poland claims its birthright from the 8th century. What we do know, is that the first known written record mentioning the word “vodka” takes place in Poland in 1405. Although Russians do love their vodka, their first documentation of the word dates back to 1751.
  8. Vodka has almost always been associated with Russia–and for good reason! It accounts for about 70% of the alcohol consumed in the country.
  9. Russia banned the sale of vodka during World War One. Consequently, the Russian government was said to have lost a third of its income.
  10. May 9, 1945 is marked in history for being the day the Nazis surrendered to the Soviet Union. It is less known, however, for marking “The Great Vodka Drought of Russia.” Russians partied so hard within the 22 hours after their victory, that they literally depleted the country’s entire vodka inventory.
  11. The original creation of vodka was for medicinal purposes. It was marketed as a wonder drug to treat everything from cold sores, infertility, fevers, to the plague. Today, it effectively neutralizes jellyfish stings, disinfects toothaches, and prevents poison ivy. In fact, the beauty community holds a whole category for DIY face toners, masks, scrubs, and cleansers that all share this common ingredient so frequently found in your average martini.
  12. You can make DIY aftershave with Vodka. This well known recipe calls for natural ingredients like bay leaves and spices. (It goes without saying, you can’t drink the aftershave once it is made.)
  13. Vodka wasn’t always flavorless. The production of the liquor in Eastern Europe in the 8th century lacked the modern technology needed to obtain high proof alcohol. Producers would often mask the impurities left behind with spices and fruit.
  14. Vodka is available in more strange flavors than you can imagine through the process of infusion. To name a few peculiar flavors: bacon, buttered popcorn, dill pickle, fresh cut grass, and scorpion. This scorpion infusion also comes with a real scorpion at the bottom of the bottle!
  15. Vodka is enjoyed everywhere from your kitchen table to outer space! NASA strictly prohibits the consumption of alcohol in space, for obvious reasons. This didn’t stop Russian cosmonauts from claiming first place in the race to drink vodka in space. It has become a tradition since then for Russian doctors to send a few pouches of the spirit with the astronauts to space. Doctors claim it serves to stimulate their immune systems. Of course, NASA stands by their claim that American astronauts have never partaken in libations in space.