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History of vodka, and where to drink it in Moscow restaurants

31 January in the gastronomic calendar is informally appointed as the birthday of vodka. The choice of this date is supported by the fact that on this day in 1865 Dmitry Mendeleev defended his thesis on “The connection of alcohol with water.” The view that the Russian chemist was involved in the emergence of “fair” is perhaps one of the biggest myths in the history of the dishes and drinks. Why – tell today in our material dedicated to vodka.
To understand what vodka is, you need to delve into the history of alcohol production and consumption. The first evidence of the existence of alcohol beverages date back to the tenth century BC, Ancient civilization from China to Mesopotamia used in food beverages, obtained by fermentation from cereals, grapes, honey, various fruits, beer, wine, cider and the like. Much later – in the I century ad – for the first time there are references to distillation of alcohol-containing beverages – distillation, which allows to purify any liquid from organic substances and impurities.

Distillation (from lat. distillatio — dripping) involves distillation of the heated liquid, followed by cooling and condensation of vapors.

Distillation technology is widely used by alchemists and ancient scientists in experiments and medical practice. In the same way, for example, received essential oils. And though the “father of chemistry” Jabir Ibn Hayyan was invented by him moonshine for the production of alcohol, Europe distillation process opened only in the XII century.

Improvement and dissemination of the method of distillation given the opportunity massively and universally produce vysokostatusnye beverages, generally referred to as Aqua Vitae – water of life. In the XIV century there appears the first mention of cognac, in the XV century – the gin and whisky, in the XVI century – the German schnapps.

In Russia, the “water of life” obtained by distillation of grape must, was brought in 1386 by ambassadors from Genoa. According to the myth, in 1430 a priest from Chudov, who had mastered the knowledge and had the necessary tools, created the first recipe of Russian vodka or bread wine in the Moscow Kremlin. Grain – because for distillation grain raw materials from wheat and rye were used.

Officially, the term “vodka” came into use in the XVII century and was applied to tinctures of domestic production in the farms of landowners. Until the end of the XIX century in Russia in the official language vodka continued to be called bread wine, polugar and moonshine. But this drink was not like the one that knows the modern consumer.

The rapid development of the perfume industry, chemical and medical spheres during the technical revolution required a powerful volume of ethyl alcohol. There was a need for technology that would help to produce a pure high-grade product. So there was a distillation column, the first sample of which was presented in Paris in 1867. Design allowed to separate liquid mixtures into pure components by repeated vaporization of liquid and condensation of vapour. Today, such a column can be found not only in distilleries and Breweries. Rectification plants are indispensable where it is necessary to obtain pure components from the mixture: chemical, oil refining and gas industries.

An important feature of rectification is the ability to simultaneously isolate several substances or ingredients, the purity of which reaches 80-90%.

But back to the drinks.
With the advent of distillation columns in Russia began production of raw materials for export and “table wine” – purified alcohol of high strength diluted with water and allowed to sell. This variation can already be called a prototype of modern vodka.

What’s Mendeleev got to do with it?
At the end of the XIX century in Russia in order to avoid counterfeiting and poisoning with low-grade alcohol introduced the first established standard and quality control of vodka, which was influenced by studies of well-known chemists – Dmitry Ivanovich Mendeleev and Nikolai Dmitrievich Zelinsky. The first January 31, 1865 defended his thesis “On the combination of alcohol with water”, the meaning of which was not the search for the best recipe for alcohol. In one of the chapters of his work Mendeleev considered a mixture with an alcohol content of 40 to 55% and found that the maximum compression corresponds to a mixture with an alcohol concentration of about 46% (by weight). The formula of “dilution” found by the chemist perfectly fit into the plans of large-scale alcohol production.

Mendeleev was the first to use mixing of water and alcohol not by volume, but by weight, proving that only with this ratio of the components of fusel oils – a byproduct of fermentation remaining after rectification – are in a suspended state and are freely removed by the filter. And Nikolay Dmitrievich Zelinsky owns the project of development of the filter from the activated carbon necessary for cleaning of alcohol-containing liquids at a production stage. The same filter later became the basis of the gas mask design.

In 1914, due to the outbreak of the first world war, the production of vodka in Russia was legally suspended and resumed only in 1925, when the state declared a monopoly on its production. Until the 40s, most of the drink went for export – Russian vodka was better in quality, because it was produced mainly from rye grain. But in the postwar years, the main raw materials for the expanded scale of vodka production were potatoes, corn, beetroot and cellulose, which led to a deterioration in the properties of the product, even despite the development and improvement of rectification plants and filters.

About the taste
At the same time, Grappa, whiskey, chacha, gin and other well-known national drinks around the world — products of distillation of single distillation, giving the output of only one ingredient – fragrant, full-bodied with a multi-faceted taste and a considerable uncontrolled set of impurities and essential oils. They are more aromatic and have a trail of original component: whisky – grain crops, Grappa and chacha – grape. And by the way, it is wrong to call chacha or Grappa grape vodka – as described above, the process of making these drinks is completely different. And by the way, it is wrong to call chacha or Grappa grape vodka. Vodka is made by rectification of wort, and chacha or Grappa – by distillation. Distillation products are suitable for barrel aging, serving for aromatization and staining – distillates absorb the history of wood containers – whether it’s a three hundred year old oak barrel, which was kept cognac, or a barrel of sherry.

The quality of any alcoholic beverage is determined by the following factors: the quality of the purification of the produced product, the method of processing alcohol and raw materials, which also affects the taste. Yes, vodka has taste too! And we are not talking about the taste of cranberries and cedar, extracts, dyes and flavorings introduced by marketers in the drink to expand the range. The main thing in vodka is the type of water and alcohol used.

Water can be melted – from glaciers, reserved lake, artesian, spring and simply distilled or drinking. Moreover, not all water from the category of “drinking” is safe. The mineral composition of water and its level of hardness initially affect the taste of any drink prepared with it. Ordinary distilled water in the composition of vodka is boring, in the end, this is a maintenance liquid having even a minimal electrical conductivity.

With regard to alcohol, there are several varieties according to state standards. For the production of vodka, the following three are used: extra, alpha and Lux. A distinctive sign for the type of alcohol is an indicator of the content of methanol and other foreign compounds such as aldehydes, esters and free acids: the less – the safer. According to the GOST table of the main differences of these alcohols, alcohol extra can be called less competitive. In its production, up to 60% of potato raw materials containing starch and giving extra methanol at the final stage are allowed. Produced from alcohols, alpha and Deluxe vodka, some belong to the category of elite drinks.

With the terminology and taste differences understood, now tell us where to go:

Vodka of Grigory Leps “a Glass of vodka»
From the name everything is clear. In the glass on Petrovka hold 61 types of Russian vodka (from 120 rubles.), 9 types of imported, and 27 types of home branded tinctures for 190 rubles per serving. To have a snack offer mini-sandwiches (from 50 rubles) with sprat or sprats, sauerkraut and bacon. A large-scale tasting of branded products will be accompanied by lagman with veal (320 rubles), Solyanka (360 rubles), chebureks with different fillings (100 rubles), meat pies, pasta in the Navy or Shawarma with chicken (320 rubles.)

Restaurant “Spassky»
Spassky restaurant
In Russian classic cuisine new restaurant on Ilyinka vodka is not only drunk, but also honored – January 31 will be celebrated the birthday of Russian vodka. Guests staying in the “Kremlin” hall of the restaurant will be treated to a glass of white and a sandwich of Borodino bread with roast beef and salted cucumber. The celebration will last until February 2 inclusive. It is recommended to have a snack mini-pies (90 rubles) or jelly from a calf with soaked apples and mustard (430 rubles).

Bar “Vermutete»
bar Verrucaria
In the bar “Verrucaria” based on vodka make a collection of branded vermouths and cocktails with them from the chief barman Andrei Kornilov, which you can always debate the topic of the history of the production of any alcoholic drink and to ask about the technology of preparation of vermouth.

You should definitely try Truffle dry (480 rubles) from vermouth and vodka with the addition of white truffle. And to order a lush pizza with veal brains and eggplant (650 rubles), with foie Gras and dried apricots on Satsebeli sauce (620 rubles) from Carlo Grecu or Focaccia with halibut caviar for a snack (350 rubles).

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