Saturday 1 April 2023

THE DAY RUSSIA COMPLETELY RAN OUT OF VODKA!

Vodka is synonymous with Russia like Alfred Hitchcock with thriller movies. Vodka is more of a symbol of Russia to rival its own brown bears, caviars and Matryoshka! Sure, Vodka is native of Russia with the highest consumption rate among the people for the last many centuries-currently with 17 shots per person per month! Poland and Ukraine are close enough to them in this matter. So also the whole of Vodka belt containing Eastern Europe and Nordic countries.

The word Vodka comes from the translation of water in Russian "Voda".Experts suggest that its use became so common among the people in Russia because it is a quick remedy for the cold they have to face! And vodka is everywhere in Russia, in politics, folk songs, movies, literature, jokes which has become inseparable with social life of people. 

Having narrated about the importance of Vodka in the life of Russia and Russians, there was a time when they ran out of Vodka for a day and had to face disrupted supply for many following days! That was on May 9, 1945, the day Germany had surrendered to the Allied Forces as officially announced by Russia on the radio!! The news broke out on that day by 1.10 am but the Soviet citizens went outside in the middle of the night in their pajamas, embraced each other and wept with joy. Before Stalin could officially announce about the German surrender, the country had run out of Vodka!!

Russia has not changed..
In 2017, much later after Soviet Union had disintegrated to so many countries including Russia, Geetha and I ,were in Moscow along with few other Indians on a tour. As we visited a good restaurant for a buffet dinner, there was a free offer from the owner that either a can of beer or a shot of locally brewed Vodka is free. As expected hardly few fellow Indians had it but those who had ,went for international brands of beer. But I went for the Vodka since I thought it was a good chance to taste the local brew of Moscow. Sure , as practiced I wanted soda or water to dilute it but the bartender asked me to take it as it is in sips.It was a good decision and I ordered for the second shot. Geetha joked that it was a clever ploy of the owner to extract money. But when we wanted to settle the bill I was not charged for the Vodka in spite I had asked to bill the extra shot! The waiter smilingly told me that it was on the house! Their love for Vodka has not changed a bit whether the Govt has become capitalist or communist or dictatorship!!

Origin of Vodka...
Poles claim that they had been making Vodka from 8th century distilling grain and potato spirits. However Russia started it much later in the 14th century. It is believed that an orthodox monk named Isidore of Greek origin had pioneered it in 1430, distilling from Chudov monastery in Moscow distilling products of wheat and hence known as 'bread wine'.

                                                                      Chudov Monastery

In 1472 the Tsar Ivan II institutionalized the first state autonomy of Vodka in the country. All in Russia had to purchase the state produced Vodka except the nobles of the society who were permitted to brew. Thus home brewed Vodka offered infused with herbs, berries and fruits. Peter the Great invented the 'penalty shot'- a shot of Vodka - but in goblet of 1.5 litres- to be gulped by those who came late to his parties!!  The first prohibition was also imposed during the Tsarist reign. Tsar Nicholas did that in 1914.I don't know whether it had any impact with Bolshevik revolution which followed soon!!



When the communist revolution came in 1917 it did not curb the people's interest in Vodka either, since it was a good way of collection of revenue. In fact the production, distribution and sales of Vodka were more professionalized. During the second world war, the Soviet soldiers were supplied with 100 grams of Vodka each day!!

Smirnoff Vodka is not a Russian brand!

Smirnoff who fled Russia during the revolution period established his brand of Vodka made in USA and Canada and many other western countries. Made from grains of wheat, corn and potatoes this brand is the largest selling brand in the world among 130 countries where Vodka is used! Second most sold brand of Vodka is Absolut, a Swedish product!Than the quality of these products, western techniques of advertisements and sales might have helped establish these brands  in the world in popularity, I presume.

                                      ____________________


 












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