About Me

My photo

Providing non-judgmental and non-criticizing support for family and friends of end-stage alcoholics through one-on-one coaching, support groups, blog posts, workshops and public speaking.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Who is Miss Vodie? What's her resume?

Everyone knows the bad stuff about drinking liquor. But few people really take notice of the history of distilled liquors. Inquiring minds want to know – so I inquired. That is I did some research. There’s a list of reference resources at the end of this post.

The liquor I hear the most about is the one I often refer to as Miss Vodie – or otherwise known as Vodka. It seems like a good place to start.

Vodka is a distilled beverage composed of water and ethanol and sometimes flavored other fruits or sugars. It is made by the distillation from potatoes or rice and very pure water. It can be made from many other kinds of materials such as grain or molasses. It is used to make cocktails such as martinis, Cosmopolitans, Screwdriver, Bloody Mary’s and many other drinks.

The name “Vodka” is from a Slavic work “voda” meaning “little water”. It was recorded for the first time in 1405 in court documents in Poland. At that time it was primarily used for medicines, cosmetics and making gunpowder.

I always thought the homeport of vodka was somewhere in Russia. However, Poland claims to have distilled vodka as early as the 8th century. That version was more of a crude brandy since it was distilled from wine. So maybe it cannot really be considered a true vodka.

At the end of the 9th century the first documented production of Russian vodka was reported. During the 14th century vodka was considered to be the Russian national drink. In the mid 16th century, Poland and Finland also laid claims as it being their national drink. The first exports of vodka were to Sweden in 1505.

The liquid contained many impurities and many methods were used to “purify” the drink. It was very expensive to produce palatable vodka so distilleries became the exclusive right of the nobility because they were the only ones who could afford the task. By the 18th century a new system of purifying using charcoal filtration was developed making it less expensive to produce.

Vodka increased in popularity as Russian soldiers introduced the liquor to other parts of Europe during the Napoleonic Wars. The high demand led to the production of lower grade vodka which was produced from distilling potato mash. The availability of the cheaper, mass-produced vodkas began an “epidemic of drunkenness”. Attempts were made to control the situation by enacting a law to make production and distribution of vodka in a Russia as a monopoly.

The name “Vodka” was officially adopted after a standard of technique and a guarantee of quality was attained at the end of the 19th century.

All private distilleries in Moscow were confiscated after the Russian Revolution. Many Russian vodka makers emigrated taking their skills with them. In Paris, a Russian immigrant named Smirnoff developed a French version of vodka. He partner with another Russian who had relocated to the USA. In 1934 vodka began being produced in the USA. It increased in popularity with Americans by the 1940s. In the 1960s-1970s vodka reached it’s all-time high popularity in the USA.

The vodka boom was greatly due to the change in lifestyles at the time. The more affluent younger generation, relaxed lifestyle, and mix-ability of vodka contributed to its increase in popularity. Martini’s were all the rage and considered to be the drink of exclusive circles and upper class bars.

In the less sophisticated, back country areas there was another kind of vodka brewing. Bathtub vodka or, commonly called “Moonshine”. This can be produced easily and cheaply. It can also be deadly. Severe poisoning leading to blindness and death can occur as the result of drinking this homemade concoction.

During Prohibition Bathtub Vodka was being cooked up in big cities as well as back country. When Prohibition ended, the bathtubs may have returned to providing a place to bathe, but the country moonshine stills continued to prosper. To this day there is an abundance of illegal stills hidden in the countryside.

Vodka can be as much as 40%-50% pure alcohol. It is very easy to over-consume vodka especially when mixed with other juices or mixers. Excessive amounts will inhibit your judgment and decrease fine motor control and coordination. It increases your risk of alcoholism and its associated diseases such as cirrhosis.

I gathered all this information from internet research of various sites. All I really need to know is that it is has been a huge factor in destroying Riley’s life. I don’t blame Miss Vodie or the vodka producing industry. It isn’t vodka’s fault that Riley chooses that liquor to join him in his decline. The fault is hard to establish. I think we’d have to take a look at the entirety of Riley’s life to really determine the fault that led him into alcoholism.

Reference websites: Ginvodka.org; Wikipedia; Livestrong.com


Rosemary King said...

Vodka is my Arch Enemy, it was my husband's drink of choice.
I remember the big bottle used to scare the hell out of me!
Big bottles of vodka meant that the cocktails would be nonstop and I would be in for a nightmare of a time!

And of course after the Vodka turned my Sweet, Intelligent husband into Mr. Hyde, I would have to look for a place to run and hide.
How can something so damaging to our lives be legal? Where would we be if we had pot smoking husbands?
No man ever beat his wife after smoking a doobie, I'm just sayin...

Peggy G said...

You are so right!!! Government entities make so much money off of DUIs and all the BS that goes with it, why would they make drinking illegal???? This country is not interested in anything other than making money from its citizens, in return, they do absolutely nothing for its citizens.

MRP said...

I think my husband moved from rum to scotch, then finally vodka over four decades of drinking because it looks like water and he thought it fooled everyone that way, and it was cheaper than other booze.