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Vodka is a colorless distilled liquor made popular by people of Eastern Europe (mainly Russians and Poles). Its origins are somewhat murky, but it was regularly exported from Russia by the end of the 15th century. It may be distilled from any starchy plant matter -- traditionally grain such as rye or wheat, but also potatoes, and sometimes even "side effects" of oil refinery. Vodka usually has an alcohol content ranging from 37 to 60% (classic is 40%).

The word vodka means "small water", a diminutive of the Slavic root voda for water. The drink was first called zhiznennia voda, or "water of life" -- unsurprising, as many European cultures have a liquor whose name means "water of life", such as the Gaelic whiskey and the Scandinavian akvavit.

While most of the vodka exported to the West is unflavored, Russians make and drink a wide variety of flavored vodkas. Flavorings include pepper and various fruits.

Some people say you can soak marijuana in vodka, taking the leafy substance out after three weeks, making for a interesting drink.

Popular brands of vodka from various nations include:

see also other alcoholic beverages, Wikipedia Cocktail Guide

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