I just saw an RT report about how the homo-lobby in the West is calling for a boycott of the Olympic games in Sochi and a boycott of Russian vodka. The footage in the report showed a cute slogan which the homos were promoting: “no Sochi, no Stoli”. Now I don’t have anything to say about Sochi or the Olympics, but I will say this: Stoli aka “Stolichnaya” is not a particularly good Russian vodka, and there might be purely gastronomical reasons to avoid it.
The main reason for the fame of Stoli is that in the middle of the Cold War the Pepsi company signed an agreement with the Soviet government to import Stoli in the USA (and export Pepsi to the USSR). So in the USA Stoli was “THE” Russian vodka. Happily, the Cold War is over (yeah, I know, Uncle Sam is trying hard to re-start it) and now Americans have much, much better options. So let me share some of them with you.
First you need to know that all vodka is is pure alcohol and water. Sounds basic, no? Not really, because how pure the alcohol and, especially, the water are makes a huge difference. Just like a top quality Scotch whisky like The Glenlivet is entirely dependent on the quality of the water of the one stream were Glenlivet takes its water, so does the taste of vodka also almost fully depend on the water it is made with. It appears that seemingly tiny differences in the chemical qualities of various types of water result in big differences in taste. Top of the line vodkas are therefore distilled and purified several times in proprietary processes which the manufacturers try to protect. I will not try to explain it all here – there are entire books about this – but I will say this: don’t be fooled by the “only alcohol and water” argument as vodkas come in a huge spectrum of quality ranging from the absolutely vile and disgusting “throat burners” to the top of the line products like these:
First, there are the vodkas of the Russian Standard or “Русский Стандарт” official lineup:
1) base version: Russian Standard Original
2) improved version: Russian Standard Platinum
3) superior version: Russian Standard Gold
4) exclusive version: Russian Standard Imperia
Now the sales of liquors is no more than 50% taste and the rest is product positioning. This is also very true for vodka. So I will spare you the technical differences and directly go to the bottom line: Russian Standard Original is an amazingly good vodka (infinitely superior to Stoli) which you can get at a very reasonable price. Unless you are a vodka cognoscente, I would stick with this one. If you are willing to pay more for the really good stuff, then definitely try the Russian Standard Platinum which is very perceptibly superior to the Standard version. But I would skip the Gold and Imperia versions which, while very good, do not strike me as significantly better than the Platinum (honestly, I am not sure that I could tell the Platinum and the Imperia apart).
Second, the other top of the line vodka producer is the Moscow Crystall Distillery. This company has a big selection of vodkas but one of them really shines: the Youri Dolgoruki or “Юрий Долгорукий” vodka. Named after the 12th century founder of Moscow, this vodka is at least as good, if not slightly superior, to the best Russian Standard versions. Alas, it is harder to find, at least in the USA, but if you do see it somewhere – grab it, you will not regret it.
There are, of course, plenty of other good vodkas out there, including quite a few from the Crystall Distillery, but these two (the Russian Standard Platinum and the Youri Dolgoruki) are, in my opinion, the best ones out there, and both can be obtained without paying an exorbitant price.
And while I am on the subject of vodka, allow me to share a few tips on how to drink vodka.
You will hear experts telling you that it is wrong to drink vodka ice cold, that it should be cool or even at room temperature. Nonsense! Don’t trust them. Your bottle of vodka must absolutely spend the night in the freezer and should come out “steaming cold”.
The best way to drink it is in a small shot glass called riumka (рюмка) in Russian. Nothing fancy at all, a basic simple shot glass like the one shown here is fine.
If you want, you can also use a more elegant glass like the second one shown here.
One thing you should absolutely avoid is to drink vodka from a regular glass. This is a vulgar Soviet-era habit which is the sad expression of a time when vodka was used simply as a source of alcohol simply to get trashed and not as a refined way of enjoying foods. Foods? Yes, absolutely.
The best way to enjoy vodka is definitely with food.
What kind of food?
There are many options here. In fact, most foods do benefit from being preceded by a shot of top quality ice-cold vodka. How? Nobody really knows, but it is a fact that our senses of taste and smell seem to be enhanced by a small shot of vodka. This is just a short list of what can be enjoyed with vodka:
Smoked salmon, crabs, pickles, mushrooms, baked appetizers (with meat or cabbage), black bread, salmon roe, black caviar, hot and cold soups, green onions, smoked herrings, backed potatoes with sour cream, hams, smoked sausages, etc. etc. etc. To get a feel for the possibilities, just go to google images and copy and paste the following two terms in the seachbar: закуски водка .
My personal favorite is the very basic combination of the Russian black bread, some chopped green onions, a few pickles and maybe a few marinated mushrooms. Simple stuff yes, but all these products must be 100% organic, top quality and homemade (for the mushrooms). Not the GMO and chemicals laced canned foods we are fed by corporations.
One more advice: do not waste any good vodka on cocktails. If you like Screwdrivers or Bloody-Marys use Stoli or even something cheaper.
Anyway, if the homo-lobby wants to boycott Russian vodka I would suggest that drinking it becomes a deliciously politically incorrect crimethink which, if your religion permits it, should be committed and encouraged. And, as everything else in life, this sampling of vodka should be done with taste, with moderation, and only with the best products possible.
PS: one more thing – don’t drink too much vodka, or you might start feeling like this: :-)
It turns out that Stolichnaya brand has nothing to do with Russia anymore. It’s owner is a Swiss company and the production lines are located in Latvia. The owners were so eager to deny any connections to Russia and they devotion to the gay community worldwide they went overboard with that. Looks like not only Stoli is going to suffer from a drop in sales in the West, but also the Russians are going to deny Stoli from now on and I’ve got a feeling that that drop in sales in Russia is going to be much more painful for the brand
This pic with the pickles onions, bread and vodka looks really inviting
Na zdarovie tavarichi!!!
@Anonymous1: “Lavtian Stoli” yeah, I heard that too. Amazing when you consider that Stoli was, at least if I remember correctly, actually made by the same distillery as Crystall, at least for a while.
This pic with the pickles onions, bread and vodka looks really inviting
Except for the bread. I much prefer a coarser darker bread called “Borodinski” like the one in this photo:
But that is, of course, a subjective matter of taste.
@Anonymous2: na zdorovie druzia is probably more common (except in the military where tovarishch is still used).
It’s Hard to be a Homo in Russia
@Nationalist: I would ask you not to just post a link, but to add at least a sentence or two explaining why you posted it, ok?
Gad, Saker, appreciate much that you provide but your attack on gays is so parochial.
@Anonymous: Gad, Saker, appreciate much that you provide but your attack on gays is so parochial.
Since I did not say a single word about any individual I can hardly be accused of attacking anybody. I did, however, express an opinion on a phenomenon which you are welcome to totally disagree with, but calling it an “attack” is just not logical. When you add that the “attack” is “parochial” this is rather ironic since I did not mention a single religious argument, but I suppose that by “parochial” you mean “having a limited or narrow outlook or scope” and here you are definitively right. My opinion is the expression of the outlook of a male who is absolutely unapologetic about his manhood and who clearly states that the gender-confused folks you call “gay” (and which I would rather call “sads”) suffer from a form of sexual dysfunction which I find uninspiring in principle and disgusting in practice.
The French author Alain Soral put it very well when he said:””Qu’il soit réactionnaire de persécuter les pédés n’implique pas qu’il est progressiste de se faire enculer.” (“the fact that it is definitely reactionary to persecute homos does not mean that it is progressive to be fucked in the ass”). Just like him I fully condemn as wrong and stupid any forms of persecution of a person due to his/her sexual preferences, but that hardly implies that I have to yield to the prevailing (and cowardly) fad of genuflecting in adoration for those suffering from a mental disorder involving identity and sexuality issues.
Mind you, if you can convince yourself that two “men” who convince themselves that tearing each other other’s anuses is “just another form of love” I have no problem with that. To each his own. What bothers me is when this activity is suddenly elevated to the rank of political identity or agenda and when those who believe in this kind of “love” immediately dismiss as bigoted or, as you put it, “parochial” those who disagree or think otherwise. I can tell you that regardless of what the rest of “mankind” (or should it be “peoplekind”?) does or says, I will never accept such concepts as “dry-water” or “white-black”. We can play all sorts of silly mindgames to try to define “normal”, but I can thank God for the fact that I do not need to look into abstractions and artificial mental constructs to know sick from healthy, right from wrong, love from pathology. And, again, none of the above is an attack on anybody. It is simply my honest opinion, nothing more, nothing less. I see no reason not to express it here freely even if you, and others, will chose to dismiss as an “attack”.
No one suspected that you were “inspired” (end of first paragraph) by gay physical practices.
You’re imagination crawls if you believe gay love is limited to the physical and anuses.
Deal with it if you don’t like someone else’s empowerment.
This reader will deal with it if you are being parochial, I still learn much and am enriched by never “dismissing” you and consider your words even when you are disturbing.
улыбнула статья ))) вспомнился анекдот:
Вопрос с улицы: – странно, они не пьют русскую водку?
Ответ: – пью, сэр!
Вопрос: – так чего они ее бойкотируют?
Ответ: – пидоры, сэр!
Anthony forgets that real men drink ale.
My bad, Antonina
You can drink as you please.
@Skal:You’re imagination crawls if you believe gay love is limited to the physical and anuses.
Of course not! I never said any such thing, neither did I even imply it. So this is a typical straw man fallacy. Still, I will reply by saying that I do not believe for one second that sad love is limited to the physical or anuses any more than I believe that heterosexual love is limited to the physical or vaginas. HOWEVER, I will admit that vaginas are central to heterosexual love, if only because intercourse through them yields the most beautiful thing in the universe (the birth of a new baby). Of course, I understand why those who deny that homosexuality is a sexual psycho-pathology would get irritated at the comparison since all you can get from (unprotected) anal sex is a torn anus and a roaring infection. This is not an expression of my “homophobic” prejudices or inability to deal with the “empowerment” of anybody, its a fact of nature which I see no reason to try to ignore or not mention in a discussion.
Deal with it if you don’t like someone else’s empowerment.
Do I really come across as somebody who would feel threatened by, or challenged, by the putative “empowerment” of men having sex with men, women with women or folks changing genders? On a psychological level, I am married to a women which I sincerely hold to be the most wonderful wife, friend and partner that any man could dream of, we have three wonderful kids, a super satisfying sex life, and 19 years of blissful marriage. Physically, I am 6″3 for 260 pounds and let’s just say that I don’t scare easy. Spiritually, I have the joy of belonging to the oldest form of Christianity in existence. Intellectually, well, I will just say that I did learn and achieve enough things in life to feel at least adequate. And I can promise you, from the bottom of my heart, that when I see the folks at a “gay parade” I don’t feel threatened, challenged or otherwise affected.
Finally, and just to make you better understand where I come from, I deal with the entire homo-lobby movement (not the PEOPLE, mind you, but the POLITICAL MOVEMENT) in the exact same way as I deal with the now rather “passe” feminist movement: I tell them what I think and which, I promise you, they don’t like to hear and watch them have hissy-fits over how bad I am and how that must mean that I fear them. Let me tell you this – I don’t fear feminists any more than I fear homos. In fact, I see both of them as very similarly dysfunctional and pathological.
@Антонина: а я вот что вспомнил:
@Skal: Anthony forgets that real men drink ale.
It’s Antonina, with an ‘a’ at the end. She is a lady (-: I know, those pesky genders again :-)
As for what real men do or do not drink, being Russian, she probably would not think in these terms other than “real men drink in moderation and always remain true gentlemen”.
You have the same rights to your opinion as a gay person or a feminist, so have no fear about that.
You also have the ability to create your own red herring argument about a non-existent red herring, so have at it.
If you were toe to toe, ear to ear shouting at each other over your opinions my position would be to stand at the ready to get between you, even though it has been long decades since I had a better build than Bruce Willis ever did.
It is 6’3 *AND* 260 lbs not “for” or even “by”.
Got to watch those pesky conjunctions.
ps. wife is making all-American blueberry pancakes right now while she takes time out from composing her “honey-do” list. So I will enjoy your blog again much later.
@anonymous:It is 6’3 *AND* 260 lbs not “for” or even “by”
Ouch! Touche. That is the kind of mistakes I will always make I am afraid. Though I have spent a total of 15 years in the USA by now, English is still only my 3rd of 4th language and I often make my friend giggle with the kind of grammer I came come up with (my daughter especially like to make fun of me – and her brothers – for our crappy grammar).
You also have the ability to create your own red herring argument about a non-existent red herring, so have at it. If you were toe to toe, ear to ear shouting at each other
I did neither :-P
wife is making all-American blueberry pancakes right now
Yummy! Lucky you – its sounds fantastic! Enjoy :-)
За песню спасибо, красивая ))), удивительно но я её не слышала, мне больше Мурку в разных вариантах присылают ))) (ник мой Мурка-Мурочка)
@Антонина: да песня красивая, но и имя тоже очень красивое да и исконно русское – лепота! А Шевчука я уже многие годы слушаю и очень люблю, жалко что он недавно с “болотом” связался…
Песня то из фильма “Антонина обернулась” – его можешь скачать вот здесь: http://rutracker.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3140046
Держись сестричка :-)
Оба на, а “держись, сестричка” это к чему? вроде в иноязычном инете я о себе не рассказывала ))) да в рунете тока пара челов знают кто я и что я ))). Ладно,лирика, ща вышла из отпуска, потихоньку читаю подписки и Ваш блог тоже. Медленно, так как камрад гугель переводит настоько занятно ))) что долго пытаешься понять))). Мне интересно разичие восприятий одних и тех же событий в рунете и в мире.
@Антонина: а “держись, сестричка” это к чему?
Виноват. И с поникший головой беру назад :-)