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February 18, 2018

Interesting Vintage Pictures of Russians Drinking Vodka From the Past

Vodka has traditionally been made by processing equal amounts of alcohol and water with some trace additives to soften the taste and then filtering the alcohol water mixture through carbon. The word vodka is a diminutive form of the Russian word for water. It was coined in the late 19th century by the famous Russian chemist Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleev, who formulated the Periodic Law, classifying elements according to their atomic numbers. Before that time vodka was simply known as “grain wine."

According to some studies a typical Russian man drinks 180 bottles of vodka a year, or one every two days. In Russia, vodka is very cheap, about $1 for half a liter, and greatly cherished. One Moscow liquor store owner said, "In our country, vodka is a purchase of the highest importance. Russians will never skimp on vodka---they'll just eat less."

By the early 16th century, vodka drinking was enormously popular. Most of the vodka was produced by local tavern owners who became very rich at the expense of their customers. By the mid 17th century the consumption of vodka had gotten so out of hand that a third of the male population was deeply in debt to the taverns and many farmers were too drunk to cultivate their land. The state took over and monopolized the sale of the drink.

In the mid 17th century, the Orthodox Church declared that vodka was an invention of the devil and destroyed all the documents that related to vodka's early history. The church's and the government attempt to crackdown on vodkas drinking only drove the drink underground and encouraged people to make their own vodka at home, a custom that continues to this day.

Disturbed by the impact that vodka was having on his people, Czar Alexander III decided to improve the quality of vodka by hiring the famed Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev. Among the improvements he made were fixing the alcohol content at 40 percent and basing the amounts of water and alcohol used to make vodka on volume rather than weight.


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