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International Vodka Day 2023: 10 Fascinating Facts About The Famous Spirit

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Known for its versatility and global appeal, vodka has captured the hearts of enthusiasts worldwide, and while vodka may appear deceptively simple, it is a spirit steeped in tradition, craftsmanship, and cultural significance. The spirit's origins can be traced back centuries, with its roots deeply embedded in Eastern Europe and today it’s found in almost every bar and home liquor cabinet around the world and its so popular it even has it’s own day on the 4th of October every year. 

But beyond the regular classic cocktails and shots, there’s a whole lot of fun to be found in the world of vodka.

Get to know your favourite spirit a bit better with these 10 fun facts.

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1. It Was Once As Good As Money

It’s no secret that Russia loves its vodka, but did you know it was once as good as money? Vodka was once used as currency due to its immunity to inflation. During a financial crisis in the 1990s, it served as a means to purchase goods, pay taxes, and pay salaries. It was known as a ‘liquid currency’ in 1998 authorities in a Siberian district even paid 8,000 schoolteachers with bottles of vodka. 

2. It Had Healing Powers (Almost)

Many people can vouch for the healing powers of a stiff drink, but it was once taken much more literally. In Russia and Slavic nations vodka used to have medicinal significance. It was believed to treat ailments and disinfect wounds. Presently, it persists in traditional Russian medicine and has gained popularity as a health tonic, though scientific proof is lacking.

3. It’s Not All About Potatoes

Despite the common narrative around vodka being made from potatoes, the clear spirit, is often made from various sources, typically grains but also fruits, or milk depending on where you are in the world. Multiple distillations ensure purity and different ingredients lend the final product different underlying flavours. 

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4. The World’s Got It Wrong With Freezing

Most alcohol doesn’t freeze and most need temperatures around -16 C or lower to do so, and vodka is no exception. For this reason, many people opt to store their vodka in the freezer to ensure a frosty cold drink every time. However, this isn’t recommended by most experts, especially for high-quality vodka. The cold can actually alter the most subtle flavours and detract from the drinking experience. 

5. Vodka Wasn’t Always Neutral

Back in the early days of its production eastern European vodka lacked modern distillation techniques and multiple rounds of filtration. This meant that it wasn’t the pure spirit we know today and often, to mask those impurities additional flavours like spices and fruits were used. 

6. Moscow Had A Vodka Drought

‘Why’s all the vodka gone?’ echoed through the streets of Moscow in 1945 (or at least that’s what we imagine they’d be saying). After the surrender at 1:10 a.m. on May 9, 1945, the celebrations in Moscow were so expansive that within 22 hours, the jubilant revellers had drunk the city dry. 

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7. Vodka Is The Water Of Life

While there may be many jokes made about the phenomenon, vodka actually is akin to water in some countries, or at least where the name is concerned. The term "vodka" derives from "voda," a Slavic word for water, reflecting its integral role in Eastern European culture.

8. It’s Purer Than You Think

In comparison to other spirits and alcohols, vodka is remarkably pure. It has less than 100 calories per drink and is made only with natural ingredients wheat, barley, water and rye. The lack of additives and chemicals make it the ideal choice for more health-conscious drinkers. 

9. Vodka Has A Shelf Life

Unlike many alcohols which are valued more the longer they’re aged, vodka does have a shelf life. It won’t spoil or go off, especially if it’s still in a sealed bottle but the quality will definitely deteriorate over time if left unused. The ideal duration you should keep a bottle of vodka is 12 months, and preferably less after opening. 

10. It Makes A Useful Cleaner

Aside from amping up your evening cocktail, vodka can be a huge help around the house. The spirit can be used in multiple ways to eliminate unwanted odours, polish up chrome, clean windows and glasses to streak-free perfection and disinfect multiple surfaces. It can even be mixed with essential oils and employed as an easy aftershave.