While it’s true that the Hangover hospital produces the best hangover cure in Key West, it is also true that Vodka produces some of Key West’s best hangovers. While the Poles and Russians dispute who was the first to make vodka, the clear alcoholic beverage has been inextricably linked to Russia and Russian culture. While the Russians like their literature long and complex, they prefer their alcohol simple and direct. You won’t find a lot happening traditional vodka. It is ethanol and alcohol and not much else. Commercial vodkas are slightly more complex and tend to spin off on the original by adding various flavors.
In the vodka belt, which is composed of various countries including Poland and Russia, vodka is served “neat” and freezer chilled.
Vodka: The Key Ingredients
Contrary to popular belief, vodka can be but does not necessarily have to be made with potato. The key ingredient is starch which potatoes have plenty of. It doesn’t need to be aged like other spirits and does not need to be kept in fancy wood barrels either.
Vodka can be made from wheat, rye, barley, corn, or potatoes. When made from grains or potatoes, active enzymes need to be added to ferment the starches. When fruits are used, this step is unnecessary.
Don’t Make Your Own Vodka
Unless you’re a chemist who understands what methanol is and what it can do to the body, it is highly inadvisable to attempt to make your own vodka. In places of the world where the sale of alcohol is prohibited, individuals occasionally attempt to make the vodka themselves. It happens often that these people die of alcohol poisoning en masse because their alcohol contains methanol. Alcohols that you can buy at the store contain ethanol only. The presence of methanol makes it very easy for a person to get alcohol poisoning from even small quantities.
Vodka was Originally Used for Medicinal Purposes
Today in Russia, it is not uncommon for Russians to dab their children’s heads with vodka to bring down a fever. Regardless of the efficacy of that treatment, vodka was originally used for medicine. It was used as a primitive disinfectant and to clean minor wounds. It was referred to as either “bread wine” or “burnt wine” but it is very different than the vodka we enjoy today.
If you want to purchase some original vodka, you can do so under the brand name Polugar. Polugar is produced in a distillery at the border of Russia and Poland.
The term vodka is actually a diminutive for the term water. In other words, “vodka” is “little water”. The term as used by the Russians, however, denoted just about any kind of spirits. It did not necessarily refer to the drink we know today as vodka.
The technology to make what we call vodka today requires rectification towers which were invented in France in 1867. In 1884, Czar Alexander III purchased hundreds of rectification towers and brought them to Russia. He then proceeded to declare all other spirits illegal. So from that point forward, vodka was the only liquor that Russians had access to.
Prior to this point, Russia was known throughout the world for having the most splendid menu of alcoholic beverages. Bread wines were made with garlic, dill, caraway, and other herbs and then paired with each course of the meal. The loss of Russian cultural identity with the influx of “vodka” was tremendous. It amounted to a vast erasure of their cultural identity.
Bread wine would be rediscovered in 2002 when retired Russian scientist Boris Rodionov saw a news broadcast indicating that several people had been poisoned to death by store-bought vodka. Determined to brew his own, he delved deep into the process of making vodka. When he realized the costs associated with it ran into the millions of dollars and that the technology didn’t even exist until the late 19th century, he realized there must have been some rewriting of history somewhere along the way. The result was the rediscovery of bread wine.
While bread wine is difficult to find, many believe that it is worth the effort. Simple to make and easy to flavor, bread wine is a versatile spirit that can be adapted to all tastes.
Talk to the Hangover Paramedics at the Hangover Hospital
If you’re nursing a serious vodka hangover, the hangover paramedics at the Hangover Hospital have the cure and the best part is, we will deliver it right to your door. Contact us and feel refreshed in about 45 minutes with our IVs in the Keys.