Vodka

What? A spirit distilled to at least 96% alcohol, usually made from cereals such as corn, potatoes, rye, or wheat. Usually filtered, and can be flavoured with additives to make a flavoured vodka.

Where? Vodka's origins are in Eastern Europe, but since the 1970s and 1980s successful brands came from France, Sweden and USA.

When? Russia has evidence dating from the 9th century and Poland's first records are from the 11th century.

How? A chameleon of taste that supports a cocktail rather than dominating it.

Tip For Beginners: Look for value as flavour variation is less that with other drinks. Some cheap vodka is actually very high quality (Luksusowa), and often the more expensive brands are not noticeably different in taste (we're too polite to name names)

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