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197 × 120 × 15 mm
168 pages
67 illustrations, 63 in colour
01 Apr 2012

Vodka A Global History Patricia Herlihy

Vodka is the most versatile of spirits. While people in Eastern Europe and the Baltic often drink it neat, swallowing it in one gulp, others use it in cocktails – from the Bloody Mary to the vodka Martini – or mix it with tonic water or ginger beer to create a refreshing drink. Vodka manufacturers even infuse it with flavours ranging from lemon and strawberry to chocolate, bubble gum and bacon. Created by distilling fermented grains, potatoes or other vegetables, this colourless, flavourless and odourless liquor has been enjoyed by both the rich and the poor throughout its existence, but it has also endured many obstacles along its way to global popularity.

This book takes us for a ride through vodka’s history, from its mysterious origins in a Slavic country in the fourteenth century to its current global popularity. On its way to world domination, vodka became ingrained in Eastern European culture, especially in Russia, where standards in vodka production were first set. It continued to flourish despite hurdles such as American Prohibition and being banned in Russia on the eve of the First World War (because of soldiers turning up for duty drunk). Vodka tells the story of how a humble drink became an international industry.

Gin: A Global History and Vodka: A Global History are two delicious, well-mixed cocktails of history and booze. The first thing I learned from these books is alcohols long-lasting dual effect on society . . . I also learned that every kind of liquor has its own story. In these handsomely bound little volumes, part of the Edible series from Reaktion Books, the authors retell the centuries-long and always fascinating stories of vodka and gin.’ — The Inquisitive Eater

‘a charming book about this most versatile of spirits. Vodka: A Global History takes us for a ride through vodkas history, from its origins in a Slavic country in the 14th century to its global popularity today. Along the way, we get clever illustrations and tidbits like these: Bison Grass Vodka, a favorite among Poles and Russians, is reputed to enhance virility, and vodka demand spiked in the United States after James Bond, uh, Sean Connery, uttered those famous words, shaken not stirred, in the 1962 film Dr. No . . . Im not much of a drinker, but I love this book. Its a fun read.’ — East Side Monthly

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Patricia Herlihy is Emeritus Professor of History at Brown University.

Introduction: Vodka's Intrinsic Appeal

1. Making Vodka
2. Not Just for Drinking
3. Vodka the Terrible
4. Origins
5. Vodka and the Tsars
6. The Soviets and Vodka
7. Vodka Invades the United States
8. Brands, Bottles and Boutiques: Vodka Diversifies
9. Vodka, Inc.: Vodka as a Global Business
10. Market Prospects
11. Vodka's Future

Vodka Around the World
Websites and Associations
Photo Acknowledgements