It’s a common stereotype that Russians are always drunk on vodka or alcohol in general. While this country popularized Vodka, Russians don’t drink as much as people say they do today. And although they still take Vodka, they also consume beer, wine, and other alcoholic drinks.
Vodka has no taste, flavor, or smell. It’s just alcohol produced from wheat or rye, so it’s completely normal to ask why Russians drink vodka. And you’re about to learn all about what Russians see in this plain spirit in this article.
So why do Russians Drink vodka?
Russians have a history of drinking vodka, so it’s completely normal for them to continue the tradition. Russians also drink vodka because it’s healthy alcohol. They believe in the curative and preventive powers of vodka.
Continue reading to learn about more reasons why Russians Drink this spirit and the history behind Russians’ love for vodka.
Why Is Vodka Associated With Russia?
Vodka played a major role in ancient Russia, the Russian empire, and the Soviet Union. We won’t be able to cover all the details in this article, but let’s talk about it for a bit.
Historians have not been able to come to an agreement on the exact moment Russia began to take vodka. Some say monarchs like Ivan the Terrible and Peter the Great popularized it, but no one’s sure. These monarchs may have popularized vodka and alcohol in Russia, but vodka existed long before then.
It was in the 16th century that Russia was flooded with barrels of vodka and wine. Yes, they didn’t invent vodka. Vodka used to mean medicine or an alcoholic mix of herbs.
It wasn’t until close to the middle of the 17th century that vodka became popular as a leisure drink. The Russians learned to make it themselves instead of importing it.
Ivan the Terrible had a terrible idea, he banned the common people from brewing their own alcohol at home, and all drinking establishments were run by the state. At this point, mass heavy drinking was the order of the day.
In the state-run drinking establishments, people could only buy and drink alcohol without any snacks, so they got drunk faster compared to brewing alcohol at home and eating food with it.
Alcohol was taxed and became a major source of income for the government. It was only after a hundred years that people started waging war against the prevalence of alcohol in Russia. They started issuing decrees, limiting the number of drinking establishments and forbidding the sale of alcohol on certain days.
However, the decree meant less money for the treasury, so it didn’t last more than a few years. When Peter the Great came into power, he reinstated the alcohol monopoly that had been canceled 15 years prior and even worsened the alcohol situation.
Peter himself was an alcoholic, so he was more invested in the alcohol trade. After reinstating the monopoly, he allowed the private production of vodka and wine as long as you paid a fee to the state.
While most countries tried to limit alcohol consumption because of its adverse economic effects, these concerns didn’t matter to Russia as long as the treasuries filled up. Of course, this bred a depressed and miserable population.
On the eve of the world war in 1914, Nicholas II had to choose between sobriety and income. He wrecked the monarchy that fed on the public’s vodka addiction and introduced a dry law, but this didn’t last.
When the Soviets came into power, the state monopoly restarted, and although successive governments tried to curb excessive alcohol consumption, they couldn’t. The penalty for alcohol consumption in Russia in the late 1900s was social disapproval at best.
Russia has gone back and forth when it comes to alcohol consumption, so it’s no surprise vodka is still their most popular drink today.
Why Do Russians Prefer Vodka?
There are thousands of spirits in the world. Why have Russians stuck with vodka all these years? Below are some reasons.
It Goes Well With Russian Cuisine
Russians say vodka goes well with local Russian food. The spirit enhances their food taste and aids digestion. Be it Caviar, smoked and salted fish, or meat; vodka does an amazing job of accentuating the taste and quenching thirst simultaneously.
Many Russians believe vodka is healthier than other spirits, and they may just be right. Vodka is a neutral spirit without distinctive character, taste, color, or aroma. It has low calories and no carbs, sugar, or fat.
Needless to say, vodka is an easy way to get drunk without ingesting all the other extra ingredients from traditional drinks.
Vodka is also said to increase blood circulation in your body, which can prevent strokes and other heart diseases.
Apparently, young Russians take vodka due to how cheap it is. College students, for example, who may not be able to afford expensive spirits but want to get drunk, settle for vodka. As they age, some tend to stop consuming vodka entirely, while others still love it.
Vodka has become an important part of Russia’s history as it has featured in political, social, and military sectors. Till today, it’s an important part of wedding celebrations, births, funerals, and promotions in Russia.
How Do Russians Drink Vodka?
Although vodka mixers and cocktails are all the rage, Russians like to drink this spirit pure and in small shots. They don’t mix their vodka with juices or sodas. It’s served pure and chilled.
Russians also gulp vodka in one go, they don’t sip it. The concentrated taste of the spirit slaps, so it’s not something to take slowly. They often have some snacks like pickles or herring to go with the shot.
Russians have enjoyed this spirit for hundreds of years, and although most Russians don’t drink vodka like their ancestors, it’s a history that cannot be forgotten. Now that you know why Russians Drink vodka and how to drink vodka like a Russian, why don’t you go grab a bottle?