When you think of Russian drinks what pops in your mind first? Vodka of course! When I went to Russia last November my main goal was to try vodka and then see the sights (drunk sightseeing, this could get weird).
I love trying local drinks when I travel so of course I wanted to try Russian vodka in Russia and what better place to try vodka than The Vodka Museum in St. Petersburg. After my Russia Visa fiasco, I needed a drink.
The Vodka Museum is just two rooms; one with what I am going to assume tells you the history of vodka in Russia and how it has been made over the years. The other room (my favorite room) is the sampling bar. There is also a restaurant attached; the restaurant was hopping the night we visited and we could not get a table. I’d recommend booking a reservation in advance through your hotel. Seemed like walk-ins were not welcomed.
The museum of all things vodka
To be completely honest, I didn’t learn a thing walking through the museum. The main reason being that all the plaques and signs were in Russian, another reason was that I wanted to try out some vodka so I hurriedly went through the room acting as if I were interested and understood what each display was about.
Sampling the good stuff
Upon entering the sampling area, a few bar tables were set up with three samples of vodka and a plate of Russian snacks. The bar girl came over and explained the vodka types and the snacks. The vodka samples went from least to most filtered. The more filtered the vodka the smoother the taste. She suggested starting with the harshest one first and working my way down the line to the smoothest.
At that moment I had a flash back to college; slinging back shots of cheap vodka like it was my job, a handle of Popov or McCormick’s for the night would do just fine. Now, I know better/have more money to spend on the good stuff. I cringe thinking about the taste of those cheap vodkas I had back in my “wild” days and I get a little nervous try to the first sample.
I raise my glass and shoot back the first sample. It wasn’t so awful. I didn’t run to the bathroom and puke. I don’t even think I made a face after swallowing it down. In fact, I think I looked like a pro. When sampling vodka you want to toss it back, this isn’t a sipping drink. The vodka should be tasteless on your tongue and you should feel heat in the back of your throat.
After the shot comes the snacking
Now for the snackies, after your shot you should munch on the snacks. Why? To help you stay sober. This is how the Russians drink so much vodka and don’t look like drunken fools while doing it.
So, I repeat the steps until all of the shots of vodka are gone and I am only left with the pickle.
I am not a vodka aficionado, they all tasted about the same to me. I enjoyed the atmosphere of the museum bar and the snacks because I would never have thought of eating raw herring on rye bread with the onions, damn it was tasty!
The Proper Way To Drink Vodka
Take it as a shot. Don’t mix it with anything, mixed drinks are for college girls and wimps. Savor the burn in the back of your throat, then eat a small snack.
Three shots in…
I was feeling pretty good after the vodka tasting. These samples were full shots and I took them in the matter of 30 minutes. With my buzz on, I stumbled back to my hotel bar to try even more vodka.
What your favorite local drink that you’ve tried while traveling? I’d love to hear about it.