“This drink has a magical power. It strengthens the weak, and revives those who have fainted. Those tired after work and physical activity can return their life forces by this drink much sooner than by nourishment. It works as a diuretic, an appetizer, an antitoxin.”
~ Carolus Linnaeus (18th-century physician documenting the effects of vodka)
~ quote found on www.vodkarocks.com
Ah, vodka. The stuff of gods Or at least, of Russians and great martinis.
This kicks off a new series that will pop up on occasion, discussing the wonderful ingredients that we use in both our mundane and magical lives. Our first item is vodka.
Early vodka production was attributed to Poland, where it was made in the early Middle Ages for medicinal use. Use of vodka quickly spread, and the "vodka belt" (Russia, Poland and the Ukraine to name a few places) is the eastern region of Europe where vodka is drunk straight with no additives or mixes.
Myself - I prefer a martini - either "Dirty" (with olive juice and olives) or some other fluffy version with fruit juices and other liquers. Here is a recipe I like that reminds me of my friends who like to call my path "that woo woo stuff you do":
Woo Woo Martini
(Actual name. Found in "The Martini Book" by Sally Ann Berk)
6 parts cranberry vodka
1 part peach schnapps
Combine in a cocktail shaker over cracked ice. Shake well and serve in a martini glass, garnished with a lemon twist.
Rue's note: In order not to get completely smashed -drink slowly or add 1 or 2 parts of cranberry, peach or other desired fruit juice to cocktail. This is powerful stuff!
Using good vodka is important if you are drinking it straight or with minimal additives. I highly recommend "Crystal Head Vodka" for sipping and it's distillation process (not to mention it's packaging) lends to some wonderful magical symbolism. This vodka is triple filtered through Herkimer Diamonds. These are not actually diamonds, but clear quartz crystals found only in upstate New York. Although they are naturally occuring, they have a diamond-cut appearance, which gives them their name. Some of the magical qualities associated with these stones include: astral travel, power and healing.
Magical uses of vodka are many. Used as a stabiliser, vodka is added to our plants and herbs to create tinctures, flower essences and mixtures such as Florida Water. Vodka used as a stabiliser does not have to be "the good stuff," any bottle will do.
There are many recipes and schools of thought on the exact way to make a flower essence. The general idea is to take a clear bowl of spring water into your garden and politely trim a few flowers (or leaves if you are using herbs) and place them in the bowl in direct sunlight for 3-8 hours. What plants you use depends on your need and the qualities of those plants. Please be sure to know the plants you are using and their possible toxicity!
Strain the flower-water into a bottle and add vodka or brandy (or apple cider vinegar if you don't want to use alcohol.) Usually 1/4 flower-water to 3/4 alcohol works. This is then your "Mother" essence. The idea of essences is that the more diluted they are, the more effective. So, from the Mother, place 2-7 drops into a dosage (dropper) bottle and add stabiliser alcohol. I like to use 1/2 spring water and 1/2 alcohol at this stage, as I allow my neices to use my essences and don't want them imbibing much. Dosage is usually two to four drops, up to four times a day from your dosage (dropper) bottle. Or you can further dilute this mixture.
Tinctures are simply plant material plus a stabiliser placed into a dark bottle and stored for up to a month, but shaken daily. These are then strained and taken as drops, either under the tongue or on the skin or in food or drink. Echinacea in tincture form is something many people are familiar with.
Whether you are a martini fan or just use it in your herbal remedies, vodka is a versatile ingredient to have in your cupboard.