A clear, neutral-tasting strong spirit of Russian origin, vodka is perfect to be enjoyed as schnaps or in drink mixes and cocktails.
A diminutive of the Russian word for water, voda, vodka literally means "little water". Vodka may well be regarded as the national alcoholic drink of Russia.
Genuine, traditional vodka is distilled solely from grain (wheat, barley, rye) or potatoes. To obtain clarity and clean, neutral taste, the distillate is usually filtered through charcoal, sometimes several times, before bottling.
Within the European Union, according to its legislation, if a vodka is produced using ingredients other than grain or potatoes (eg grapes), this fact must be stated on the product to distinguish it from the traditional products.
In picture on right: a bottle of Polish Belvedere vodka.
The vodkas of premium quality like the Polish Belvedere or the Russian Moskovskaia, Stolichnaia or Pshenichnaia, among others have a neutral, smooth taste without any distinctive flavour or odour. The alcohol content of vodkas varies between about 40 and 60 % by volume.
Traditionally, vodka is served well-chilled from small shot glasses.