Vodka is a distilled beverage composed primarily of water and ethanol, but sometimes with traces of impurities and flavorings. Traditionally, vodka is made through the distillation of cereal grains or potatoes that have been fermented, though some modern brands, such as Ciroc, CooranBong, and Bombora, use fruits or sugar.
Since the 1890s, the standard Polish, Russian, Belarusian, Czech, Estonian, Hungarian, Icelandic, Latvian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Slovak, Swedish and Ukrainian vodkas are 40% ABV or alcohol by volume (80 US proof), a percentage widely misattributed to Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev. Meanwhile, the European Union has established a minimum of 37.5% ABV for any “European vodka” to be named as such. Products sold as “vodka” in the United States must have a minimum alcohol content of 40%. Even with these loose restrictions, most vodka sold contains 40% ABV.
Vodka is traditionally drunk “neat” (not mixed with water, ice, or other mixer), though it is often served freezer chilled in the vodka belt countries of Belarus, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Lithuania, Latvia, Norway, Poland, Russia, Sweden and Ukraine. It is also used in cocktails and mixed drinks, such as the Vodka martini, Cosmopolitan, Vodka Tonic, Screwdriver, Greyhound, Black or White Russian, Moscow Mule, Bloody Mary and Bloody Caesar.
More recently, people have experimented with producing more unusual flavors of vodka, such as extremely hot chili flavored vodka and even caramel vodka. In most cases, vodka flavoring comes from a post-distillation infusion of flavors. Through the fermentation process, grain mash is transformed into a neutral alcohol beverage that is unflavored. The process of flavoring vodka so that it tastes like fruits, chocolate, and other foods occurs after fermentation and distillation. Various chemicals that reproduce the flavor profiles of foods are added into vodka to give it a specific taste.
Coming soon – a directory of Caramel Vodka resources