Vodka is a drink which originated in Eastern Europe, the name stemming from the Russian word 'voda' meaning water or, as the Poles would say 'woda'.It’s easy to assume you know enough about vodka. The spirit is fairly straightforward: colorless, lower in flavor (if not always quite flavorless), high-test and mixer-friendly. Except that’s like vodka 101. That’s freshman year college vodka (so to speak), and if we’re interested in our distilled beverages, it’s time we get to grad school level.

What’s missing from our Moscow Mule Days and Vodka Cranberry-laced nights is a deeper understanding of one of the most iconic, unsubtle, misunderstood spirits out there. A spirit we abuse—figuratively speaking—with instant recourse to mixers and shots, a spirit we take too often without food, a spirit we for some reasons decided to overlay with a veritable rainbow of candyshop flavorings. There’s a lot more to vodka—and there’s been a lot more to vodka for over a millennium. Time to catch up.