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Where it began

As with many spirits there is much debate over the origin of vodka, some say it started in Russia, others say Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania or Sweden!

The term ‘vodka’ can be traced back to the 1405 in Poland and to 16th century in Russia. Russians are attributed with the invention of charcoal filtration of vodka in the 18th century by chemist Theodore Lowitz. The potato vodka production for which Poland is now famous was introduced at the beginning of the 19th century and immediately revolutionised the market.

The invasion of vodka in to the Western world has been credited to John G. Martin and the Smirnoff brand. Americans, traditionally whiskey drinkers, were unfamiliar with vodka and Martin came up with the idea to bottle it with whiskey corks and brand it as a "white whiskey". At the same time, a friend of his was trying to launch his own brand of ginger beer and they hit upon the idea mixing their products together to create the legendary Moscow Mule. A drink that epitomised the vodka brand - fresh, dry and spicy.

How it is made

Vodka can be made from any fermentable base material such as cereal grains, grapes or even potatoes!

The base material (starch is first converted into sugar if necessary) is fermented and then distilled using a continuous still or pot still.

Good quality vodkas are filtered a number of times to remove any impurities.

SMIRNOFF® NO 21 production


Vodka is a smooth, clear liquid generally without flavour or with a light flavour. Most vodkas are typically 40% ABV and must be a minimum of 37.5% ABV in Europe.
Neutral style, classic vodka is made using a continuous still and very little character from the base material remains.

Pot-stilled vodkas are largely neutral, however they tend to retain light characteristics from the base material (rye, wheat, potatoes, grapes.) This method is used for more premium vodka brands as well as some Polish and Russian vodkas. Many producers also choose to flavour their vodka. This can be done with a range of different fruits, herbs and spices. A recent popular trend has been apple flavoured vodka.

Key serves

SMIRNOFF® Moscow Mule

50ml SMIRNOFF® NO.21 Vodka

150ml Ginger beer

Lime wedge


Fill a highball glass with cubed ice.

Add SMIRNOFF NO.21 Vodka.

Top with ginger beer.

Stir to combine and garnish with a lime wedge.

(2 standard drinks*- 1.6 units per serve)

KETEL ONE® Bloody Mary

50ml KETEL ONE® Vodka

90ml Tomato juice

20ml Harveys Bristol Cream

8 Drops of Tabasco

4 Dashes of Worcestershire sauce

2 Pinches of celery salt

2 Grinds black pepper

2 Rings of yellow bell pepper chopped


Muddle two chopped rings of yellow bell pepper in a cocktail shaker.

Add KETEL ONE®, tomato juice, Harveys Bristol Cream, Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce.

Dip the rim of a highball glass in salt and pepper and fill with ice.

Rock the drink with ice and fine-strain to serve, garnishing it with a celery stick.
(2.4 standard drinks*- 2.2 units per serve)


35ml CÎROC™

10ml orange liqueur

10ml Lime juice

50ml White grape juice or apple juice

Top up with soda/sparkling wine/Champagne


Shake all ingredients.

Fine strain into chilled champagne glass.

Top up with soda.

(1.8 standard drinks*- 1.4 units per serve)

Did you know? The term 'vodka' comes from the Russian word 'voda', and means 'little water'.

(*One standard drink contains 8g of alcohol)

Check out these vodka brands for more information on their style and range:

  • Smirnoff


    Smirnoff No. 21 Vodka is the number one-selling premium vodka brand in the world, and distributed in over 130 countries.

  • Ketel One

    Ketel One

    The Dutch vodka takes its name from the original coal-fired pot still used by the Nolet family today, creating a pure but deliciously complex premium spirit.

  • Ciroc


    Ultra-Premium Vodka crafted from fine, succulent French grapes, distilled a fifth time at the Distillerie de Chevanceaux in southwest France.

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