Where Vodka and Rum Comes From
We're rounding out this week's series of posts on where some of the world's most famous liquors came from and how they're made by taking a closer look at Rum and Vodka.
Rum has its roots in the West Indies and was first mentioned in records from Barbados around 1650. It originally was known as 'rumbullion' but within a few years it was known by the name rum.
Rum played a part in early American history, at the time slaves were being traded for molasses, this molasses was then turned into rum in the New England area. It was also an alternative currency for a few years in the early history of the colony of Sydney in Australia. British sailors were given rations of rum from the 1700's through to 1970.
Today rum is produced in all countries involved in sugar production. However, the best rums still come from the West Indies. Well known rums of course include Bacardi and Coruba from the West Indies. One of the better rums from the West Indies is Barbancourt produced in Haiti from 1862.
When made it is colorless. Red rums are the result of being stored and aged in wooden casks - and in some cases the addition of caramel or burnt sugars. Authentic rum is at least 80 proof and is mainly used these days as a base spirit in mixed drinks and cocktails such as hurricanes which can be properly enjoyed from personalized hurricane glasses.
Vodka is a common base spirit used in cocktails, as well as mixed drinks. Higher quality vodka is typically tasteless and odorless. It's usually made from fermented potatoes that have been distilled - the final result is a spirit that is typically 80 to 100 proof. It can also be made from barley, corn, or rye. Vodka originated in Russia and is now produced in several Eastern European countries such as Poland.
In Russia the vodka making tradition goes back over 1000 years. Just as the Scots claim to use only highland stream water (at least in the superior single malt whisky), top producers, such as Stolichnaya, claim only to use pure glacial water to mix with the grain for the initial fermentation process. It is then put through a double distillation and a quartz/charcoal filtration process to produce the 80-proof spirit.
Vodka and Cocktails
As Vodka has little taste it is widely used as a base spirit for many cocktails that include fruit juices, such as the Bloody Mary, Screwdriver, Bunny Mother, and many others.
However a large number of Cocktails are mixed using a liqueur to complement the Vodka, for example Silver Sunset, Blue Lagoon, and Chiquita.