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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Moscow Mule saved from "some kind of alcoholic wastebasket"

Cold War footnote: vodka has more of an American pedigree than you likely know. Even the Moscow Mule was first put together down the road a bit, at the Cock 'N Bull. Moscow Mule recipe:

1 1/2 oz vodka (4.5 cl, 3/8 gills)
3/4 oz fresh lime juice (2 cl, 3/16 gills)
Add 1/2 lime shell in glass (1 1/2 oz, 4.5 cl, 3/8 gills)

Fill with ginger beer, ice

Serve in a copper mug (12.0 oz)
Which is all why this vodka news from Europe, though coming as a bit of a relief, also feels inconsequential:
Traditional vodka can be made only from grain or potatoes, the European Parliament decided Tuesday.

Beverages made from other ingredients can use the name "vodka" only if their compositions and origins are clearly indicated on labels, according to new spirit labeling rules approved by the Parliament.

EU members from traditional vodka-producing countries, like Finland, Poland and Sweden, had pushed for stronger rules that would have banned beverages made with other ingredients from using the name vodka.

"We have made vodka out of potato and grain for over 500 years," said the Finnish deputy, Alexander Stubb. "When we became EU members in 1995, we were told that vodka would have a tight definition, just like rum, just like whisky, just like grappa. We don't want vodka to be some kind of alcoholic wastebasket."

The EU vote was conducted by a show of hands. The news doesn't affect this household much; we typically drink Smirnoff, drink of choice of Cold War vets everywhere, grain-based and manufactured in the USA from a Russian recipe. There have been bottles of Ketel One under this roof also, mostly to put the status anxiety of guests into check. For a beverage that is by both American and European fiat does not have any distinctive aroma, character, colour or flavour, there is always quite an extra fuss about vodka.

There is nothing wrong with vodka. Nor with the equally noble American quarter horse; but one will never win the Kentucky Derby, and nor are they bred to. In daily service, you do not use a thoroughbred, you use the plowhorse; and that is the blessing of vodka.

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