Vodka originated in Eastern Europe where, before the arrival of distillation techniques in the 15th Century, spirits were produced by freezing fermented liquid and separating the higher-proof alcohol. It was made from local raw materials such as wheat, barley and rye. Vodka is a clean, pure spirit, produced mainly in continuous stills. Its most typical base materials are grain and molasses.

Several styles of vodka are made and hundreds of brands are available. After the 1940s, vodka became internationally popular, with the numbers of younger vodka drinkers growing since the 1970s. The most popular vodka in the West is unflavoured, although cask-aged flavoured vodkas – and the original pungent version - are also available. Vodka is ideal as the basis for martinis and mixed drinks, with the Bloody Mary, Bloody Caesar and Screwdriver particular favourites.