Ever wonder about the history behind vodka?

Vodka is a top-selling spirit everywhere in the world. When first consumed, it was only in Europe. The clear liquid is the result of combining water and ethanol. It’s distilled from a fermented substance like corn, potatoes, grains, etc.

Poland and Russia claim to be the first place to originate vodka. The first documented production of vodka was at the end of the 9th century in Russia. However, reported in a Russian town called Khylnovsk in 1174 was the first known distillery was around 200 years later. Poland claims to have distilled vodka in the 8th century. This spirit they distilled was of wine, and it’s more of brandy than it was vodka.

In the beginning, vodka only was distilled once. Distillers soon learned the benefits of distilling vodka multiple times, which results in higher alcohol content with higher quality. Later, it was discovered that using charcoal in the distillation process was a new way to purify vodka.

During World War I, vodka made its way to North America, and World War II brought the production of vodka to western countries. The consumption was expanding, and so was the manufacturing. Vodka was no longer a spirit that was made only in Russia and Eastern European countries.

To be considered a vodka, it needs to have a 40% ABV or 80 U.S. proof. This requirement was established and has stuck since the 1890s. The European Union requires a minimum of 37.5% for vodka. It’s gained notoriety in the cocktail world because of its versatility. The first cocktail book to include a recipe for vodka was the Savoy Cocktail Book. The recipe was “Blue Monday,” a drink that contained vodka, Cointreau, and blue vegetable juice.

Today, vodka is one of the most consumed spirits. As the years have gone on, distillers have experimented with different flavors and additives to change the taste and look of the neutral spirit. And although it is now produced worldwide, it is still produced in its original home: Russia and Poland.

Here are some of our favorite vodka cocktails to try.

Royal Elixir

Royal Elixir

Royal Elixir


Skinny Rabbit

Skinny Rabbit cocktail being mixed and garnished by barman

Skinny Rabbit


The Wizard

The Wizard cocktail

The Wizard