Vodka, made by distilling anything that contains fermentable sugar, is pure, un-aged alcohol. Cereals such as wheat, rye and barley are the most commonly used base, but modern vodkas are now made from products as diverse as sugar beet, grapes and potatoes. Ideally, vodka should be colorless, odorless and tasteless, but differences in ingredients and modern production methods have resulted in a wide range of flavors. Vodka can be a cold, pure drink or used as a base for a variety of cocktails, from Martini to Cosmopolitan. Thanks to its humble medieval origins as a medicine, vodka has conquered the world. In 2012, the volume of bottled alcoholic beverages fell to 1.17 billion gallons (4.44 billion liters) of distilled alcohol, making it the most popular beverage in the world. But what is vodka made of? To make vodka, you must first ferment any food that contains sugar or starch and then distill it to increase the alcohol content. (Fermentation means providing yeast sugar so that yeast can produce alcohol.) Today, most vodkas are made from fermented grains like sorghum, corn, rice, rye or wheat, although potatoes, fruits or even just sugar can also be used.
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