Vodka has a long and illustrious history in Poland, Russia and other eastern block countries, collectively known as the “Vodka Belt”. In fact, it can be traced back to the Middle Ages in Poland and in the 19th Century taxes on vodka made up 40% of the Russian governments annual budget.

Traditionally vodka is made by distilling cereal grains and potato, but more recently some modern brands have used fruits such as grapes. This has caused quite a stir with traditionalists and lead to EU intervention in a so-called “Vodka War” to clearly define what could be called vodka.

When it comes to the drinking, the only way in the Vodka Belt would be straight from the freezer and neat. At a minimum of 37.5% abv that may not be to everyone’s tastes though. A huge range of cocktails use this classic spirit as a base, from fruity numbers like Cosmopolitan or Sex on the Beach to the milky White Russian. Martinis are well known for being James Bond’s drink of choice but have seen a revival of late with Expresso and Porn Star Martinis catering for coffee and fruit lovers respectively.