Vodka is a distilled beverage composed primarily of water and ethanol, sometimes with traces of impurities and flavorings. Traditionally, vodka is made by the distillation of fermented cereal grains or potatoes, though some modern brands use other substances, such as fruits or sugar. Since the 1890s, the standard Polish, Russian, Belarusian, Ukrainian, Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian and Czech vodkas are 40% alcohol by volume ABV (80 proof), a percentage that is widely misattributed to Dmitri Mendeleev. 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 any water, ice, or other mixer), though it is often served chilled in the vodka belt countries (Belarus, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Russia, Sweden, Ukraine). It is also commonly used in cocktails and mixed drinks, such as the vodka martini, Cosmopolitan, vodka tonic, Screwdriver, Greyhound, Black or White Russian, and Bloody Mary.
The name “vodka” is a diminutive form of the Slavic word voda (water), interpreted as little water: root вод- (vod-) [water] + -к- (-k-) (diminutive suffix, among other functions) + -a (postfix of feminine gender).
The word “vodka” was recorded for the first time in 1405 in Akta Grodzkie, the court documents from the Palatinate of Sandomierz in Poland. At the time, the word vodka (wódka) referred to chemical compounds such as medicines and cosmetics’ cleansers, while the popular beverage was called gorzałka (from the Old Polish gorzeć meaning “to burn”), which is also the source of Ukrainian horilka (горілка) and Belarusian harelka (гарэлка). The word vodka written in Cyrillic appeared first in 1533.
Scholars debate the beginnings of vodka. It is a contentious issue because very little historical material is available.The first production was either in Poland in the 8th century, or in the area of today’s Russia in the late 9th century according to different sources.] According to the Gin and Vodka Association (GVA), the first distillery was documented over three hundred years later at Khlynovsk as reported in the Vyatka Chronicle of 1174. According to William Pokhlebkin – the foremost expert on the history of Russian cuisine – the first vodka distillery was in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania on territories of present day Belarus. For many centuries, beverages differed significantly compared to the vodka of today, as the spirit at that time had a different flavour, colour and smell, and was originally used as medicine.
The museum of vodka : http://vodkamuseum.ru/en/