Vodka is made by distilling raw materials like potatoes, grapes or grain. During this process the alcohol is separated from the water and other impurities before being bottled. The end product contains approximately 40% of alcohol (80 proof) and has an almost odourless taste.
Vodka-drinking customs vary depending on territory, but there are some general rules that should be followed at any time.
A few pieces of advice before drinking vodka: don't drink it on an empty stomach, go for quality over quantity...
Pour approximately 0.25 oz (7 grams) of liquid per person into a shot glass before downing it in one go while touching your elbow against your side, then follow with a bite to eat. It's a tradition that is shared in most countries of the former Soviet Union.
Still hungry? Make a toast with your empty vodka glass to someone or something before pouring another shot. The trick here is not to pour the vodka into your mouth, but instead flick a bit of it on to your tongue and swallow it before washing down the rest with some water.
In Russia, Ukraine and other parts of Eastern Europe, giving someone vodka without offering them food is considered extremely rude...
So make sure you serve up some tasty snacks while you're drinking! In Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia they mix their vodka 50-50 with either tonic or bitter lemon soda while in Poland they enjoy mixing theirs with tomato juice - which makes for a very unusual drink!
The secret to enjoying vodka is to experiment, so don't be afraid to try new concoctions!