Newest Review: ... and design, and reads: "Made using a traditional charcoal filtration method developed by PA Smirnoff, recipe no. 21 was created by P... more
Member Name: thehonesttruth
Advantages: Clear taste, great for mixers and cocktails
Disadvantages: More expensive than most other brands
I never used to be much of a vodka drinker- I loved my lager, and tended to stay away from spirits, apart from the occasional bottle I would be given as a gift, and then drink so as not to waste it. That all changed recently, when I began dating Chris, someone I've known and loved for ten years, about two months ago.
Now, he's always been a vodka man, so when we were just friends he'd roll up to my door with a bottle of vodka for him, and some cans of beer for me. But since we've started dating, he's always at my house, and where he goes, the vodka go's too. It's only natural that I should start pinching a couple of drinks off him when I run out of lager- only it didn't stop there. I soon started drinking vodka even when I had beer, and now - I love it too!
History - Vodka
Exactly when Vodka was first made is uncertain, but there are written documentations that prove vodka has been commercially produced in both Poland and Russia since the 1400's, although there is evidence of it being around under other names in both regions before this era. Both countries lay claim to having been the first to produce the drink- however, with Russia and Poland being roughly in the same geographical area, this is again hard to confirm either way.
However, since Smirnoff is a Russian brand, lets concentrate on the Russian side of Vodka's history - there is some evidence that a drink very similar to today's vodka, called 'Bread Wine' and used as a base in medicines, was around between Circa 950-1150.
In the 16th century, the British ambassador to Russia declared Vodka its national drink, and Ivan the Terrible, the first Tsar of Russia, played a large role in increasing its production - introducing state owned distilleries and using the profits to support his lifestyle. He also introduced vodka bars for his palace guards.
Joseph Stalin did much the same thing - increasing vodka production to help finance Russia's national defences. However, the rampant alcoholism in Russia didn't please Michael Gorbachev, who sought to reduce vodka and liquor production to tackle the problem
However, the alcoholism may have been caused by another little trick used in communist times - vodka sold in one litre bottles with a non-resealable cap!
Those were the days!
A Little History - Smirnoff
Piotr Arsenieyevich Smirnov founded his vodka distillery in Moscow in 1864, under the brand name PA Smirnoff. In the 1880's, the company became the official suppliers of vodka to the royal Russian court, hence the coat of arms on the bottle today.
When he died in 1910, his son, Vladimir took over the business, but during the October Revolution, which led to the Russian civil war, the distillery was seized by the government, and the Smirnov family were forced to flee Russia, re-establishing the distillery in Istanbul, Turkey, in 1920, followed by a further move in 1925 to Lwow (now Lviv) in the Ukraine, where they dropped the PA from the brand name, becoming simple 'Smirnoff'
With the new brand name came new success , and the increasing popularity of Vodka as a mixing ingredient for cocktails led to a second distillery being opened in Paris, which is now the main distillery, although there are others in the USA and the Ukraine.
More About Smirnoff
There a various recipes for vodka, which vary from company to company. However, Smirnoff Vodka is distilled using top quality grains and purified water. While Smirnoff don't publicize their distillation process , they do make mention of the fact that Smirnoff Number 21 / Red Label is triple filtered, each filter being done through silver birch charcoal and taking about 8 hours a round.
Smirnoff Red Label / Smirnoff Number 21 are presented in a clear thick glass bottle, with bright red labels. There are various bottle sizes, and the larger bottles tend to have some embossing - Russian writing on the neck of the bottle and a crown and banner image lower down. It comes with a red metal twist off cap
It's a bit of an old wives tale that vodka has no smell or taste - this is untrue. While the smell and taste may be hard to define, they are certainly present.
The smell reminds me somewhat of those antiseptic wipes my mum used to use on me as a kid when I grazed my knee - a strong, nose-hair tingling, almost disinfectant smell. Not something I'd describe as particularly pleasant, but it's not really obvious unless you are consciously smelling for it, and the smell does vanish if it's mixed with other things.
The taste is hard to describe too - sharp, crisp, very clean tasting with a burn in the throat, yet mild, with no strong, specific flavour, but it's certainly not unpleasant although it is rather strong. In my mind, vodka is less of a solo drink (although I have been known to sink a few shots in times of stress) and more of a mixer - by which I mean it adds alcohol, rather than flavour to a drink. It blends with other ingredients, it doesn't overpower them.
Now, I may not be a vodka expert - but a blind taste test conducted in New York in 2005, between 21 vodka brands, gave Smirnoff the number one position for purity, clarity, and flavour.
It's completely transparent in colour, and could easily be confused visually with water, so it's certainly not a drink to leave within reach of children, as I don't think it would do them much good!
As with any alcohol, don't drink too much, that's just silly and will land you with a rather rotten hangover!
Obviously, don't drink and drive. You might spill your drink, and what a waste that would be!
And from my own personal experience, don't drink and Ciao. Some of the random comments I've left on people's guestbook's when a little bit under the influence have to be seen to be believed!
The first recorded exports of Russian vodka were to Sweden in 1505.
Vodka contains no fat! In fact, many diets recommend swapping a can of beer for a vodka and slim line tonic as a low fat treat.
Add a shot of vodka to a bottle of shampoo. The alcohol cleans your scalp, removes toxin and dirt and stimulating growth .
Vodka is also a great deceiver - it can lead to you thinking people are more attractive than they really are, and if given to the opposite sex, can also lead them to think YOU are amazing. So, get drinking!
A Few Recipes
Vodka doesn't have a huge amount - other than high alcohol content (around 40%) going for it on it's own, but it's brilliant mixed with other stuff. Of course, there's the obvious additions - Coke, Orange Juice, Tonic etc. But here are a few more ideas for you!
150ml tomato juice
Dash lemon juice
2 dashes Tabasco
2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
a pinch of celery salt
salt, cayenne pepper
a celery stick, to garnish.
Whack everything into a cocktail shaker, shake it all about, and pour over ice. Yummy! Also yummy without the vodka.
Frozen Bloody Mary
(Can be made in bulk and then taken out as needed!)
1 litre tomato juice
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp Tabasco
Juice of 1 lemon
Freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste
Shove everything into a large airtight freezable container, put the lid on, and shake vigorously. Remove the lid, and freeze until just starting to get firm. Then whisk it up to get more air in, and freeze again. To serve, place scoops of the sorbet into tall glasses, and serve with celery sticks to garnish.
Pretty obvious to James Bond fans - Pour a splash of Martini into an ice filled cocktail shaker and shake to coat the ice, pour off any excess, and then shove in some vodka and shake!
This is one I saw on Jamie Oliver and then copied. Basically, he shoved a plastic funnel into a watermelon, and poured vodka into it for a few days before serving as an alcoholic melon starter! I've tried it, it's lovely, especially if you get the melon really cold before serving!
Vodkas great - while somewhat tasteless on it's own, it's such a versatile drink that you'll never run out of combinations, has a strong alcohol content, and is very pure. As far as Smirnoff is concerned - while its my favourite brand, especially for neat drinking, it's one disadvantage is how expensive it is compared to other vodkas - about £11 for a 70cl bottle, in comparison to £6.23 for Asda Smart Price vodka.
My advice ? Smirnoff for neat drinking, cheapy supermarkets own for cocktails! However, IF I could afford it, it would be Smirnoff all the way for me!
4 stars, for being let down on price!
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