The Most Popular Kinds of Russian Liquor to Know

A starting guide to the different types of spirits from Russia

Russian liquor, more popularly known as vodka, is a well-known alcoholic beverage worldwide.

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russian liquor

Vodkas are closely identified with Russian culture and are considered the country’s national drink. It is a colorless, odorless liquor derived from grains such as wheat, barley, rye bread, or potatoes.

It usually comprises 40% alcohol content. While vodkas are the most popular Russian alcohol, Russia also manufactures other spirits, including sweet dessert wines, herbal liqueurs, and fruit brandies.

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Russia is known for its rich cultural traditions, breathtaking architecture, and good food with a wide range of drinks.

russian liquors

The drinks mentioned below are manufactured in several ways and contain various ingredients. They are not just popular among Russians but also in all countries. 

Here are eight of Russia’s most popular cocktails you must try:

Russian Vodka

Vodka is colorless and odorless. It is produced from grains, such as barley, wheat, and rye bread, distilled, and then charcoal filtered to eliminate contaminants. 

russian vodka

It is a popular choice for combining in cocktails but may also be enjoyed plain or cold.

While vodkas are consumed with a wide range of foods, it goes perfectly well with classic Russian delicacies, such as smoked salmon, caviar, and pickled herring. 

It is also often used in cocktails, including the White Russian, Bloody Mary, and Moscow Mule. Vodka has a neutral flavor, with other varieties having a creamy and sweet taste. Its texture is smooth and clean.

Sbiten or Vzvar

Sbiten and vzvar are traditional Russian beverages consumed for generations and connected with some areas of Russia.

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Sbiten, for example, is common in St. Petersburg and Moscow, but vzvar is more popular in rural areas. 

They are frequently served hot, especially during winter, and paired with traditional Russian sweets, such as pastries and blini. 

They are also popular with savory foods like smoked fish or pickles.

Sovetskoye Shampanskoye or Soviet Champagne

Soviet Champagne is a mixture of different types of grapes, such as Chardonnay, Aligoté, and Riesling, and is often sweeter than regular Champagne. 

Sovetskoye Shampanskoye

The Charmat process is used to make the wine, which entails carbonating the wine in enormous tanks before bottling. This procedure is simpler and cheaper than the traditionally-produced wines, which require second fermentation.


Ryazhenka is a famous traditional fermented milk beverage in Russia and surrounding countries. 


It’s an off-white or light-yellow liquid that’s thick and creamy. It has a velvety and smooth texture and is often served cold. 

It is consumed as a solitary beverage but may also serve as an ingredient in cooking and baking. 

Fresh berries, honey, and jam are foods often partnered with ryazhenka.

Russian Wine

Russian wines are well-known for their full-bodied, powerful taste and tannic texture.

russian wine

They feature a spicy, fruity flavor with a hint of earthy, berries, and oak flavors. 

Local grape varieties, such as Krasnostop Zolotovsky, Saperavi, and Rkatsiteli, are commonly used. However, some wineries also use international grape varieties, like Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.


Kvass is dark brown and slightly hazy due to yeast particles accumulated at the bottom of the bottle. 


It tastes acidic and somewhat sour, comparable to sourdough bread. Depending on the ingredients, it may also have a little sweet flavor.

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Kvass originated in Russia and has been enjoyed for generations. 

It is also often an ingredient for okroshka, a cold soup made with eggs, vegetables, fish, or meat.


Starka is usually transparent, but the aging process makes it yellowish or golden. It has a smooth, rich flavor with caramel, oak, and vanilla flavors. 


It has a mild sweetness and a nice warming effect, making it less harsh than regular vodka. 

It is aged using wooden barrels for many years, but modernized methods made the aging periods shorter. 

It is a Russian drink commonly served as a sipping beverage or as a foundation for cocktails. It complements rich foods like lamb, beef, game meats, stews, or soups.

Samogon Vodka

The appearance of Samogon vodka varies, depending on how it is produced. It is usually clear and odorless, similar to Russian-standard vodka. 

samogon vodka

The flavor of samogon vodka also varies based on the ingredients used. 

It is stronger than regular vodka, which has a more intense and abrasive flavor. It is made from potatoes, grains, fruits, berries, and sugar. 

It is consumed on its own or in combination with other beverages. It is also used in cooking and baking.

Frequently Asked Questions

Some of you may be curious about Russian spirits, especially when planning to visit Russia. This article will address some of your questions.

What liquor originated in Russia?

Russia has a long history of creating a wide range of liquors, which includes:
Beluga, Samogon, Horilka, Medovukha, Nastoika, Green Mark, Romanoff,, Russian Standard, Smirnoff, Stolichnaya, and Zyr.
In Russia, you have a wide range of options when it comes to alcoholic beverages, which suit every taste.

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What liquor is Russia known for?

Russia is famous for vodka, a clear, colorless distilled alcohol manufactured from cereals like wheat, rye, or barley. It is best served with ice and consumed straight, and often included in mixed beverages; other types include cognac, beer, and fruit brandy.

What type of alcohol is Russian alcohol?

Russian alcohol encompasses a wide range of alcoholic beverages made and consumed in Russia; vodka, brandy, beer, mean, and wine are popular varieties of Russian alcohol. Other forms of alcohol are exclusive to Russia, such as kvass, samogon, horilka, and chacha.  

Final Thoughts

Russians have a long history of producing spirits, and the most popular is Russian vodka. They are manufactured from fermented grains or potatoes and are popular during festivals and toasting events. They are enjoyed as a sipping beverage or as a base component for cocktails. Their popularity has gone beyond Russia, and it is now available in clubs and sold in liquor stores worldwide.

Have you tasted liquor produced in Russia? Which is your favorite? Leave a comment and tell us what you think of these tasty and refreshing cocktails.

Please drink responsibly, be fully accountable with your alcohol consumption, and show others respect.

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Paul Kushner

Written by Paul Kushner

Founder and CEO of MyBartender. Graduated from Penn State University. He always had a deep interest in the restaurant and bar industry. His restaurant experience began in 1997 at the age of 14 as a bus boy. By the time he turned 17 he was serving tables, and by 19 he was bartending/bar managing 6-7 nights a week.

In 2012, after a decade and a half of learning all facets of the industry, Paul opened his first restaurant/bar. In 2015, a second location followed, the latter being featured on The Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

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