All Vodka Belongs To One Of These 3 Categories

For many, vodka brings back hazy memories of partying. From Bloody Marys, cosmopolitans, and martinis to Moscow mules, screwdrivers, and white Russians, it's a key ingredient in some of the most popular cocktails. That's not surprising, given it's typically at least 80 proof in the U.S. (via Cocktail Society). And yet, despite its potency, it can be fairly plain in taste on its own.

Still, you can use this clear, distilled liquor in myriad other kitchen-related tasks, besides mixing beverages. Infusing deserts, fruits, and veggies with vodka gives them an extra kick. Alternatively, one can add vodka to glazes and sauces of savory meals, or even make pastries flakier by baking with it.

Originally, vodka emerged in Russia or Poland, maybe as early as the 8th century, per Encyclopedia Britannica. Over time, it gained popularity in those regions, as well as in the Balkans. It wasn't until the mid-20th century, though, that people in the rest of Europe and the U.S. started imbibing vodka in force. Eventually, it became known all across the world as a go-to spirit. What some don't know, however, is what it's made of.

Fruit, grain, or potato

All vodka consists of ethanol, water, and a bit of flavor, per Crafty Bartending, but that doesn't mean it all has the same base. This colorless liquor can be made from fruit, grain, or potatoes. Common grains used for vodka include barley, rye, and wheat, while fruit vodkas use apples, grapes, or pears. Potatoes are potatoes, but mashing them is a common extra step. How old the vodka is or where it hails from doesn't really matter, according to Sip Awards.

No matter what, vodka is fermented and distilled. Once it ends up mostly alcohol, slightly flavored water is mixed in. Filters are often utilized to keep vodka's taste from getting muddled, as well, though some traditionalists prefer unfiltered.

What are the noticeable differences between each type? Potato vodka is fairly weak, as far as the boozy taste goes. This has the benefit of letting other flavors shine, making it a great choice for mixed drinks. Its heavy mouthfeel is also a plus in the eyes of potato-vodka aficionados (via Moscow Mule). Meanwhile, grain vodka gives imbibers a particularly easy and straightforward drinking experience. That's why so many are willing to give it a literal shot and kick back some smooth grain vodka. Last but not least, fruit vodkas have more distinct flavors, thanks to their infusion processes. This is handy if you're looking for something sweet and tasty. In the end, regardless of where your vodka comes from, drink responsibly, cook passionately, and toast heartily!