How to drink vodka like a Russian

To say that Russians have a reputation for being able to drink a vast amount of vodka might be a cultural stereotype, but it happens to be true.

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In 2012 Russia drank 1.37 billion litres of the spirit, making Russia the world’s biggest vodka market and its people experts in the art of its consumption.

According to a legend, the first Russian vodka was produced by a monk named Isidore in 1430. This “bread wine”, as it was known, was first produced exclusively in the Grand Duchy of Moscow. It remained fairly low in alcohol content, below 40% abv, until the mid 18th century. It was mostly sold in taverns and was quite expensive. The first official recognition of the workd vodka came in 1751 in a decree by Empress Elizabeth which regulated the ownership of vodka distilleries.

By the 1860s state-manufactured vodka was the common choice of drink for many Russians. In 1863, the government monopoly on vodka production was repealed, causing prices to plummet and making vodka available even to low-income citizens, with vodka making up 89% of all alcohol consumed in Russia by 1911.

While many of Russia’s drinking customs are rooted in tradition, others are aimed squarely at withstanding the pace of a prolonged session, with tricks such as downing a raw egg a common practice.

Click through for a brief insight into the drinking customs and traditions of drinking vodka in Russia…

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