Pure Vodka is not just an alcoholic beverage with limited flavor. It can also define a certain lifestyle, express inner rebellion, erase loneliness or add to a feeling of strong national identity. Russians, Americans, Germans or Scandinavians have quite different drinking rituals around Vodka. It is quite interesting that there are but a few jokes about Vodka while there are masses about beer or Bourbon-Whiskey. Vodka either is a much too serious thing or a national sanctum. You decide.
Vodka and national identity in Russia
In Russia, Vodka definitely rules everything. For Russians, Vodka is the alcoholic drink that defines a feeling of being someone. Russia claims to have invented the most consumed alcoholic beverage in Russia. Vodka is Russian by nature, they say. Even “outlandish” brands. Russians also claim to produce the best Vodka brands in the whole world. Russian Vodka is the most sought remedy against native melancholy and depression, while at the same time it causes exactly these feelings when it is consumed. The Russian soul seems to be melancholic and contradictory by nature. The ultimate test for foreigners is when they meet Russian people in privacy. Guests have to survive some treats of strong Russian Vodka without losing face. You better not loose anything else before you end up under the table, stone drunk with no memory whatsoever about dancing Russian dances and learning the most important Russian word: “Nasdrowje” for “Cheers!”. The word “Njet” for “No” is not allowed when your host pours yet another glass of stiff Vodka. You better say “Nasdrowje” and pray to god that something extraordinary happens to save you. In January 2014, a study in “The Lancet” came to the conclusion that too many Russian men never reach the age of 55 because of hard Vodka drinking. The drinking habits in Russia fluctuate, mostly due to political changes or legal restrictions. Russian males see Vodka as a potent medication that makes life a better one. Chilled Vodka Cocktails are a total “No-Go”. Life in Russia obviously calls for alcoholism. Only political reformer Michail “Perestroika” Gorbachev managed to drastically reduce the drinking rates in 1985 by setting up strict legal rules. Under Boris Jelzin, the Vodka consumption doubled instantly. It is fair to assume that frustration is the main drinking reason for Russians.
Vodka drinking habits in America
Americans surely like alcoholic beverages. There are just a few things to be considered before drinking them. First of all, health and fitness matters have to be cared for. Calories also play a major role in the decision, which drink to choose. Some say that political correctness rules when American bartenders choose a Vodka bottle to mix a cocktail. Even if an American citizen drinks Vodka with a Russian name on the label, it is definitely no Russian Wodka. Most of the consumed Vodka brands are produced in some other country and can be drunk without any danger of being politically incorrect. America also has famed distilleries which produce drinkable Vodkas for the home market. Next to bottled mineralwater and energy drinks, the consumption of wine and hard alcohol has risen under the last two American presidents. The consumption of cheap beer and sweetened soft drinks like Coca Cola dropped visibly. Americas youngsters still prefer the unhealthy sugared beverages while the older Americans obviously changed their drinking habits. Vodka is just one of many alcoholic choices with reduced caloric content. Mostly it is used as a mixing ingredient in alcoholic cocktails. In American bars, the consumption of classy lifestyle-drinks have won over the cheaper choices. Vodka is more tasty when it is flavored, so maybe soon flavored Vodka-cocktails win over the traditional Scotch and Bourbon Whiskeys. The influence that America still has on other countries, hits with a ten year delay. While Americans recently turned to more healthy drinks and high class Whiskey or Vodka cocktails, Chinese, Indian and Russian people just begin to turn to more cheap beer or syrupy and sweetened soft drinks. It is not very probable that Russians drop a good stiff Vodka for a cheap beer. They probably use beer as a starter for their Vodka-excesses. It is quite more probable that Americans will drop Russian Vodka for good. On the other hand, drinking Russian Vodka might be the easiest way to swallow recent Russian politics and see them in a somewhat softened light. However, Russian president Putin wisely decided to ban the export of Russian Vodkas to America for now. This does not impress American Vodka drinkers very much. As we revealed, most Russian Vodkas imported for mixing cocktails, are no longer produced in Russia. That serves Putin right!
What about the rest of the world?
In Germany, young people recently developed the unhealthy tradition of “coma drinking”. Vodka is just great as it has no specific taste that could get in the way while the bottle is emptied. Pure Vodka is very effective in getting drunk fast. Naturally, cheap Vodka-brands are preferred. Russian or no Russian Vodka, who cares. The most important thing is to get unconscious, wake up in Hospital, detox – and start all over again once you leave alive. The grown-up Germans have healthier drinking habits. Like in most other “civilized” countries, sinking contentment calls for rising rates in alcohol consumption. German males are social drinkers while older women end up as lone drinkers. In Finland, alcoholism is prominent. The native Vodka brand is “Finlandia”. It is said that in Scandinavia, the long dark and cold winters call for prolonged social drinking bouts. After that, you sweat out whatever toxins are still inside of you in a Finnish sauna. If you want to enter the marketing website of “Finlandia” Vodka, you first have to verify your age. That implies that you possibly get drunk while reading the adverts. Finnish Vodkas also include flavored Vodkas. These are mostly exported to the United States. This is for convenience reasons. It saves Americans from the complicatedness of mixing Vodka cocktails.