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People often say that nothing draws us together more than alcohol. Sitting down and having a drink with your friends will usually lead to merriment, laughter, and an all-around good time. The same has been true for as long as alcoholic beverages have been around. That’s why vodka has had some huge cultural influences throughout its history.
Poland has quite a history when it comes to vodka production and consumption. In some form, it has been produced since as early as the 15th century. However, it wasn’t used as a beverage as it is now. Instead, it was viewed as a medicinal drink capable of making anyone feel better, or even helping sparks fly in the bedroom. But naturally, over time the overall public interest in it grew enormously. Vodka recipes in Polish documents can be found that date back to the early 17th century, detailing specific distillation techniques.
In the 1800’s, vodka exploded into a huge industry. Distilleries opened all across the country, and were extremely successful. In 1925, the Polish government created a law to monopolize the production of vodka, and effectively took over the industry. During the 1980s, Poland was in the middle of economic and governmental difficulties. During that time, vodka did not flow as freely as one would hope. Fortunately, that changed. If there is a brand of Polish vodka that you particularly enjoy, you owe a great debt to the Solidarity Movement. Without it, Poland would not be able to freely trade, and the most enjoyable brands of Polish vodka would probably not even exist.
Russia is infamous for its vodka. Depending on who you ask, you may hear that the drink was pioneered in that country. There is a long-standing debate between historians over which country truly invented it. One thing is definitely true of Russia though, and that is that vodka has become quite a national icon. Vodka consumption in Russia is greater than any other country in the world.
Prior to the technological advances of the 17 and 1800’s, the alcohol content of vodka was less than 60%. It was quite expensive as well, and a keg would have cost a fortune. Vodka became much more popular in Russia during the 1800’s as distillation techniques were perfected, and the drink therefore became more accessible to the average family. The Russian government began to tax vodka sales, which sometimes ended up paying as almost half of the government revenue.
Those 2 countries together contributed almost all of the technology and techniques that are used in creating vodka today. But they aren’t the only countries with a cultural history of vodka. Documentation and machinery quickly spread to neighboring countries, and the vodka phenomenon spread. It was extremely popular in Scandinavia and the Ukraine, and to some extent in every country in that region of the world. It has altered cultures, economies, and governments. Few other drinks could be said to be so influential – not only on the individual drinking it, but on the world overall.
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