6 Reasons Why You Need More Than Vodka

Whilst being everyone’s go-to drink in university, vodka still manages to be the comfort drink for many. The fact that majority of the bars in Lagos constantly stuck-up all the different brands from Smirnoff, Grey Goose, Absolut, to Ketel One also shows the spirit’s unrelenting appeal.

However, because I like unpopular opinions like I’m sure you do too, I’ll give a few reasons why you should diversify your palate. Maybe this piece has everything to do with my first hangover – an excruciating and embarrassing experience, which was of course due to the bland yet very potent spirit.


Perhaps the only interesting detail about the spirit is its interesting history. Vodka’s origin is quite debatable as Poland, Ukraine and Russia, all share a collective bond with it. We’re not sure which has more grounds as there are limited materials to support proper research – should we blame the first and second world wars? Maybe. Although the word “vodka”, was recorded for the first time in 1405 at the Palatinate of Sandomierz in Poland. Scholars even argue that vodka as we know it today, is a much more different variant from what it used to be. In earlier times, the spirit had a different flavour, colour and smell, and contained a maximum of about 14% alcoholic content. It was also recorded in 1533 as a medicinal drink brought from Poland to Russia by the merchants of Kievan Rus’. I’ll just allow you figure out who you think “discovered” it first? J While the beverage was initially called gorzalka in Old Polish, meaning “to burn” it is interesting that till date its distillation process is considered “burning wine”.


1. It smells like methylated spirit, and was once used as medicine

The interesting paradox of vodka is that it smells so strong, yet tastes so bland. In Stefan Falimierz’s 1534 research on herbs and medicine, he asserts that vodka could serve to increase fertility and awaken lust, as well as being used as an ointment for sores. So if you’re ever in need of either, you know what to do. The spirit that was once used for medicinal purposes up until the 8th century, is now a huge part of popular culture. And I’ll have to blame most 90s TV shows that loved to toss a shot of vodka into everything sweet – hello Sex and the City. However, I’m still trying to reconcile how we all found ourselves drinking this ointment?


2. It tastes like water

If you speak to hard-core vodka lovers and ask what the drink’s appeal is, they’d be happy to share that the fact it tastes like water, makes it easier to enjoy. Going back to that first hangover, let’s just agree that part of the reason I suffered severe headaches for over 48 hours was because I gulped it like it was in fact just water. Don’t get me wrong, this can also be a good thing as most mixologists who prefer this spirit do so because it’s the best base for most classic cocktails; Cosmopolitan, Vodka Tonic, Moscow Mule and Bloody Mary. The spirit gets its name from the Slavic word; voda, which interprets as little water. However, I think the only thing that should taste like water should be water.


3. It is just for freshers

According to a research conducted by www.drinksbusiness.com in 2017, vodka was among the top three drinks that students in the UK would typically go for. And due to first hand experience, brown liquor was rumoured to be for the uncles and mamas of postgrad, as vodka was for fresh undergrads. If you think about it, perhaps the reason postgrads never spent summers dealing with resits was because they went for the more mature choice. I urge you to grow up today by leaving comfort zones.

 4. It is too familiar

Despite vodka’s unwavering appeal to the general public, not all bartenders feel the same way about the spirit. When I spoke to Awesome and Berg, they considered vodka to be a little too safe, and opted for tequila and whisky as their go-to spirits. I have also noticed that the best drinks that tend to have vodka in them, are usually a mixture of other spirits as well. And only seasoned mixologists can handle making a brilliant cocktail with various spirits that doesn’t belong to the pool of horrible Long Islands plaguing Lagos.


5. It is almost impossible to enjoy straight, without any mixers

While more people are attempting to move away from sugary drinks and mixers, it is impossible to do so with vodka. Because quite frankly, we all know that anyone who drinks vodka straight has serious frustrations with life. Or maybe is just seeking to cure a celibate affliction that Falimierz suggests.


6. If you’re ever visiting vodka producing regions, avoid black market variations so you don’t accidentally kick the bucket

In March 2007, the BBC reported over 1000 cases of jaundice in Russia among consumers of “bathtub” vodka – a rampant way of “burning wine” to evade taxation. There were several cases of severe poisoning, blindness, and death due to the application of an industrial disinfectant called extrasept in this bathtub process. So please maybe if you’re looking to try anything indigenous, ogogoro might be the way to go.