History of Vodka and Why Vodka was/is Made

Vodka, according to Russian lore, translates to “little water” and was used as an anesthetic and disinfectant in the 12 century. It originally was made from Rye but as time passed, wheat, barley and then corn became the preferred refining ingredient.

 

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In the 14th century, Russians came to believe that Vodka retained a divine spirit due to its intoxicating effect. It was cheap to produce so was distributed and carried around in gallon-sized jugs at religious ceremonies. It seems most churchgoers drank from these jugs because to reject the offering of a drink would be tantamount to sacrilege.

As time passed into the 16th and 17th centuries, vodka spread its influence from the church to the banquet table where meals typically began with bread and vodka. Not wanting to be left behind, lower class peasants figured a way to make their own cheap version of vodka by refining potatoes. Now everyone could afford to drink and that, they did. The whole country indulged without limit.

World War I temporarily crashed the party because soldiers marching into battle were expected to be sober so government officials attempted to suppress vodka consumption. It didn’t work. Nor did their attempts in the 1920’s to institute sobering educational programs. Then, Stalin came along and completely reversed protocol by ordering a re-expansion of vodka production so he could fund Russia’s defense.

Smirnoff Introduces Vodka to the United States
Vodka was introduced to the United States in the 1930’s by the Smirnoff Company in the form of gold vodka. Gold vodka was vodka aged ten (10) years in oak casks.

Piotr Smirnov founded Smirnoff vodka in Moscow in the 1860’s. During the October Revolution of 1917, the Bolsheviks confiscated his distillery and he was forced to flee. He fled to Istanbul where he re-established the brand then on to Lwow where he took on the French spelling of his Russian name: Smirnoff.

In 1934 and still in the midst of the Great Depression, Vladimir Smirnov, son of Piotr Smirnov, was forced to sell the company to an American, Rudolph Kunet (Kunet was a Russian Émigré), who subsequently moved the company to the United States. Kunet then sold the company to Heublein who then sold to the French conglomerate Diageo. Diageo also owns Guiness, Captain Morgan, Crown Royal, J&B, Seagram 7 Crown, VO, Johnnie Walker, Tanqueray, Bailey’s Irish Cream, Bushmills, Lagavulin, and many more.

Vodka Sales Soar in the United States
Smirnoff made giant leaps into the alcohol consumption market by paying to have James Bond drink only vodka martinis in his movies, beginning with Dr. No. In Ian Fleming’s novels, Bond drinks unbranded vodka.

 




Over 250 Martini Recipes!

Martini of the Month

Holly Jolly Christmas Martini Recipe
Dedicated to Burl Ives

  • 3 oz Gin
  • 1/2 oz Dry Vermouth
  • 1 tspn Peppermint Schnapps
  • 1 small candy cane

Add the gin, vermouth and peppermint schnapps together into a cocktail shaker which is filled halfway with cold, cracked ice. Shake well and then strain the delicious mixture into a chilled cocktail glass. Hang the small candy cane off the side of the rim and voila - you have the Burl Ives' Holly Jolly Christmas Martini.


Burl Ives' Holly Jolly Christmas Martini Recipe

 

Baklava Martini
We take from the Greeks in our celebration of the fall/autumn season with the Baklava Martini. The closest ting to eating this delicious Greek dessert.

  • 1 fluid ounce amaretto liqueur
  • 3 fluid ounces gin
  • 1 fluid ounce creme de cacao
  • 1 1/2 fluid ounces simple syrup
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Combine amaretto, gin, creme de cacao, simple syrup, and cinnamon in a cocktail shaker full of ice. Shake the mixture together and then strain it all into 2 martini glasses.


En-Lighten-Mint Martini
Perfect for Spring and Mother's Day. Hemingway may even have tried one!

  • 1 oz Cucumber Infused Clique Vodka
  • 3 Lemon wheels
  • 3 oz Sparkling water
  • 1 Mint sprig

Muddle infused vodka, 2 lemon wheels and mint sprig. Strain into a tall glass with ice and top with soda water. Garnish with a cucumber strip and lemon wheel.


Clique Vodka En-Lighten-Mint Martini

 

Baklava Martini
We take from the Greeks in our celebration of the fall/autumn season with the Baklava Martini. The closest ting to eating this delicious Greek dessert.

  • 1 fluid ounce amaretto liqueur
  • 3 fluid ounces gin
  • 1 fluid ounce creme de cacao
  • 1 1/2 fluid ounces simple syrup
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Combine amaretto, gin, creme de cacao, simple syrup, and cinnamon in a cocktail shaker full of ice. Shake the mixture together and then strain it all into 2 martini glasses.


Lefty O'Doul's Pineapple Martini Recipe
JC writes in to the Muse:
"a few weeks ago my wife and I were in San Francisco and stopped in Lefty O'Douls for drinks... she had a SKYY infused pineapple martini that she loved... I've looked all over for a recipe and can't find one...do you know of any?"

Well, JC, we were wondering how Lefty O'Doul's made their Pineapple Martini also so we called them. We spoke with Chuck Davis, the Manager/Bartender. He was the bartender who made your pineapple martini.

  • 1 oz. SKYY pineapple vodka
  • 1/8 oz. dry vermouth
  • Chill the mixed concoction
  • Serve it all up in a martini shell glass
  • Optional: add a slice of pineapple on side of glass as a garnish


Manmohan Prashar's Real Martini Recipe
Manmohan Prashar emailed us this simple, pure and tasty martini recipe:

  • 1 part red dry vermouth
  • 2 part vodka
  • 3 part gin

Step 1: start with vermouth; measure 1 part, drop a few drops in a chilled cocktail glass; rotate the glass so that vermouth is spread on the glass walls. Pour rest of the vermouth left in the measure glass in cocktail shaker.

Step 2: Add 2 parts vodka to the cocktail shaker.

Step 3: Add 3 part gin to the cocktail shaker.

Shake well and serve
Cheers!!
Manmohan Prashar


  Meadow Lark Vodka Martini

Mike Sherwood of Santa Rosa Spirits writes The Muse that he's been experimenting with two infusions from Sub Rosa Spirits. Nothing radical and, that he says, is the point. He likes mixing Elderflower Liqueur with Tarragon Vodka. The Saffron and Cointreau seemed destined as partners, "very lush and warming", he says. Mike adds a hint of fine freshly ground black pepper into a plain Tarragon martini. Grinding in white pepper also works well. The martini is meant to be understated which brings out the delicate flavor of the tarragon.

  • 1/4 oz. St. Germaine Elderflower Liqueur
  • 2 oz. Sub Rosa Tarragon Vodka
  • splash of lemon juice
  • 2 oz. soda water

Combine all ingredients into a martini glass over cold ice - check out Swank Martini Glasses for a nice selection of classic, cool and artsy martini glasses - and shake. The elderflowers bring imagery of a fresh summer meadow at sunrise. The Meadow Lark is Oregon's state bird.


  The Marseille Airport Martini

The Marseille Airport Martini may require 1-2 ounces of ginger ale or a juice of your liking. The weekend bartender at Serattos make this one with a little soda water mixed in. Soda cut the sweetness of the orange liqueur but need to play with this one a little more. The Marseille Airport Martini has a pale yellow orange cast to if from the Saffron vodka and Cointreau. The aroma is warm and familiar yet not completely identifiable due to the toasted cumin wafting over the orange liqueur and fresh lime. Think Golden Cosmopolitan minus the juice.

  • 2 ounces Sub Rosa Saffron infused vodka
  • 1 ounce Cointreau
  • 1/2 ounce fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 2 dashes Peychaud's bitters (Orange bitters will work as well)

Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker with cracked ice. Shake and strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with a long twist of lime.


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