The Origins of the Most Popular Vodka Drinks

Top 5 Weight Loss Shakes in AmazonVodka has been a staple in the world’s liquor cabinets for centuries. Originating from Russia sometime in the 14th century, vodka has gone on to become one of the most popular liquors in the world. The flavorless but powerful alcohol makes for the perfect mixer in a variety of recipes. Here are some of the most popular vodka drinks and the stories behind their creation.

Cosmopolitan

One of the most recognizable cocktails is the cosmopolitan. Seeing the reddish-pink liquid in a martini glass was a common thing in the 1990s after the cocktail was heavily featured in the television show, Sex in the City. To make a cosmo, you need vodka, cranberry juice, and orange triple sec liqueur.

The origins of this drink are disputed. Some credit the drink to bartender Cheryl Cook in a 1985 bar in South Beach, Florida. While others swear it was invented in 1987 in Manhattan by bartender Toby Cecchini.

Lemon Drop

Another popular vodka drink that has an interesting back story is the lemon drop. Today, many people at parties and events enjoy this drink by using a take on the original beverage, with this lemon drop martini recipe. It’s usually made with citrus-flavored vodka, lemon juice, and triple sec. The first time the drink was served was when bar owner Norman Jay Hobday created it in his San Francisco bar, Henry’s Africa, in the 1970s.  

Bloody Mary

The Bloody Mary is another drink with a fuzzy history that is hard to confirm. The basic recipe for this popular Sunday morning drink is vodka, tomato juice, lemon juice, tobacco sauce, Worcestershire sauce, celery salt, and black pepper.

The name of the drink comes from Britain’s Queen Mary I and references her prosecution of protestants in the 16th century. The drink may have been invented in Paris in 1921 by Fernand Petiot or in New York in the 1930s by comedian George Jessel or bartender Henry Zbikiewicz.

Screwdriver

The simple screwdriver, a mixture of orange juice and vodka, also has an origin story. According to some reports, the drink got its name due because of how it was mixed with a screwdriver. Workers would combine orange juice and vodka, but because they didn’t have spoons, only tools, the drink was christened the screwdriver.

Kamikaze

The kamikaze is another fun drink that can be served as a shooter or in a martini glass for sipping. The recipe calls for vodka, triple sec, and lime juice. Stories have the drink being created as a collaboration between staff members at a bar in Canoga Park, California in 1975. The bartenders worked together to create a drink that would help some of the workers get over their flu symptoms.   

Black Russian

The last popular vodka drink with an interesting history is the Black Russian. This drink combines vodka with coffee liqueur. There is also a variation, a White Russian, which adds cream to the original combination. Stories place the drink’s creation in Belgium at a hotel in 1949. According to some accounts, bartender Gustave Tops created the drink in honor of his friend, ambassador Perle Mesta.

The next time you drink one of these popular cocktails, think of the interesting origin story. Or, bring it up in conversation to show off your unique trivia knowledge of famous vodka drinks.

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Ava Moore
BA, MA Psychology (and Conflict Resolution), University of Cambridge (2007). With a decade of trial and error in psychology and 33 years of navigating my own complex (that's one word for it!) relationships with family, friends, co-workers and men, I hope I have some useful knowledge and skills to share with my readers about making sense of relationships and trying to become a better person every day.

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