vodka turns 500!

and HOW shall we celebrate?

Russia’s favorite drink turns 500

By Jill Dougherty
CNN Moscow Bureau Chief
Friday, October 10, 2003 Posted: 6:36 PM EDT (2236 GMT)

MOSCOW, Russia (CNN) – Former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev tried to ban it, his successor Boris Yeltsin drank as much of it as he could while current president Vladimir Putin prefers green tea.

Vodka, the famous Russian drink, is celebrating 500 years since it was first distilled by monks.

The clear liquor, these days drunk by people around the world, is thought to have been invented in 1503 by Kremlin monks, who used it as an antiseptic before they started downing it.

Since then, it has been an important part of Russians’ lives and almost every event, including weddings and funerals, is blessed – and sometimes cursed – with vodka.

Studies show Russians drink more hard liquor than any other nation in the world, including vodka – which means “little water.”

In Russia, the drink isn’t sipped; it’s drunk bottoms up, and is usually followed by a chaser – usually something salty or pickled.

Most importantly though, it’s not about how you drink your vodka – it’s about why.

Throughout Russia’s turbulent history, vodka has been the ultimate remedy for people to forget their troubles.

Author Viktor Erofeyev, who has studied the history of the drink, calls it “the Russian God.”

“Other countries they can drink. In Russia, it is not drinking. You are drinking not vodka. You are drinking your soul.”

He said Russia’s history would have been very different if it hadn’t included vodka.

Dear Vodka,

we first met in college when I thought I was hot shit to drink hard alcohol and not sissy fake drinks like the other girls. But you were a tough teacher, my friend. And you taught me some respect!

my favorite way to enjoy you? Danzka’s grapefruit flavored vodka with tonic. Mmmmm, mmmm.

Skyy, out of the freezer, straight up, probably with a beer chaser. Za vashe zdorov’e!

Ah, Dear Vodka… You and I had a wonderful time tuesday night. You accompanied me in my wait for my friend at Sushi Blues. Had I only known to tell you “Happy Birthday”. You have been the most expensive single shot that I’ve ever had. Ketel One, $7.00. But oh, were you worth it! Smooth as water… I love you, vodka. I hope you haven’t been to angry at me for my recent flings with Bacardi. Please don’t be mad… I love you, vodka!

Dear Vodka,

Happy Birthday and thanks for the memories. All those times in high school when I should have been home studying or in bed, I was out with you. Having a good time, partying it up. I only wish you would have been able to hold my hair while I was puking.

[homer]Mmmm … vodka … aaaaaaaa … [/homer]

Smirnoff, I hardly knew ye as I was Absolut-ly taken by another.

Remember those long evenings at the blues bar, me in a corner seat grooving to the tunes belted out by a large woman with a smoky voice, and you sitting pretty on the table in a glass of ice?

Though I’ll never forgive you for that time it when you, happily sloshing around in your best fifth, consumed me one night and made me reveal to a close friend that I was a vampire.

Absolut, you were my first, and I’ll never forget you. You were so gentle with me…

Then, Smirnoff. Driven to his rough arms by poverty and despair, which was only worsened by the one-night-stand with Crown Czar (twitch).

Absolut, some day I’ll come back… when I have a bit of extra cash, all right?

And just as a thought, how did they get the idea to start drinking antiseptic?

I knew for real that i was an alcoholic when I switched from bourbon to vodka, which I had never liked, because it was easier to drink and you could mix it with a little juice.

So, thank you, Trader Joe’s, for selling me bottle after bottle of Polish vodka for 8 bucks a liter.

And thank you, vodka, for being my pal and hastening the end of the road for me. I’m more grateful than you can know.

Vodka: Tasty. I approve, and celebrate its birthday.

Since I do not trust dates that far back, I’ll celebrate it whenever.