"I can't drive, so I'm going to walk all over you!"
"Drink is the joy of the Rus.note "
Glorious Mother Russia
— St. Vladimir the Great
. Supposedly, it's the coldest place on the planet, and really depressing. The obvious solution to this problem? Booze. Copious, even egregious
amounts of booze. (Drink up!
) So much, in fact, that there's a good chance a Russian character on television will be an alcoholic, or at least will look for the slightest excuse to find somebody to go get drunk with.
Somewhat Truth in Television
; alcoholism is a rather large problem in Russia and is a major contributor to high suicide rates and lowered average male lifespannote
. Vodka sales are also a prime source of revenue for the Russian government going as far back as the days of Tsarist Russia
. Many bottles of cheap vodka in Russia come with a paper pull tab rather than a screw-top because, like its owner, it's going to be drunk in one sitting. In fact, aftershave
is marketed in recycled vodka flasks so people don't look cheap while drinking it. They tend to see green imps rather than Pink Elephants
Also, this trope is sometimes extended to people in former Warsaw Pact countries, partly as a result of cultural osmosis and partly because life just sucked that much.
Anime and Manga
- Axis Powers Hetalia was bound to feature this seeing as its premise calls for spoofing National Stereotypes. Vodka is to Russia as "Pastaaaa~!" is to Italy. In his introduction alone, Russia states that vodka is his fuel.
- It's probably not coincidental that the drunken Hei at the beginning of season 2 of Darker Than Black was stationed in Russia.
- In Yugo The Negotiator, Yugo is very quick to recognize the vodka gesture while on a train during the Russia arc. Drinking quickly ensues.
- General White from Dragon Ball is heavily implied to be of Russian origin, and sure enough, he spends a lot of his time drinking a substance that's presumably vodka.
- Mikhail "Misha" Kaminsky, one of the members of the zeonic Cyclops Team in Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket, is a big and burly russian who always carries a flask of booze with him in his mobile suit's cockpit during missions. It's what we see in a Gory Discretion Shot, flailing around when the Gundam Alex's chaingun fils the Kampfer with holes, pulverizing Misha in the process.
- When The Boys go to Russia, they stay with a Russian ex-superhero who drinks some unholy abomination home-made liquid that no one (but Hughie) drinks- they just toss it back over their shoulders. We later learn it's not vodka, it's made with, among others, tank brake fluid. And Hughie grows to like the stuff.
- When Lucky Luke is the bodyguard of a Russian grand Duke, said ambassador likes to shout "Fedia! Vodka!" and "Fredia! Visky!".
- Alex "Spaceman" Glushko in Top 10 is a former cosmonaut and special interrogator for the eponymous police department. He drinks, a lot - which is a problem for his co-workers since he mainly communicates telepathically, meaning they get his headache, too.
- In Doctor Strangelove, we only hear President Muffley's side of the conversation with Soviet Premier Kisov, but even without the ambassador's word on the matter it's fairly obvious that Kisov is sloshed.
- Ivan Vanko in Iron Man 2 is very fond of his vodka. Even the burd loves vodka. His father wasn't so alcoholic until he was forced out of the US by Howard Stark for trying to profit off the Arc Reactor research. After that he turned to alcohol to numb the pain of being forced to live out his days in Siberia and died a drunken mess.
- The Russians acknowledge the stereotype as well. Case in point, the Peculiarities Of The National Hunt, a film where a group of men (all of which as Russian except for a young Finnish man studying Russian customs) go hunting, only to spend several days mostly drinking. One of the men is an army general, so when the hunting party forgets several crates of vodka, his men have them airlifted via helicopter. The Finnish guy even asks his friend when they're actually going to to hunt something. An interesting twist is that the Finnish man keeps dreaming of an old-fashioned Tsarist hunt, involving dogs, horses, and dozens of men, who, despite also drinking, actually do hunt. Rather ironic considering that Finns are also stereotyped as heavy drinkers - sometimes by the Russians themselves. The film was followed by three other Peculiarities of the National... films. The second film involved fishing, the third had another hunt, and the fourth was about politics. All of which, naturally, involve a lot of drinking.
- Another example from Russia/the Soviet Union is 1980's Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears. Gurin the hockey player is a teetotaler in 1958, but after the 20-year Time Skip he's a raging alcoholic. His wife blames his alcoholism on all the hockey fans that kept foisting drinks on him.
- The Irony Of Fate is a Russian romantic comedy from 1976 in which this is crucial to the plot. Zhenya goes out celebrating with his friends after getting engaged. Zhenya's friend Pavlik has to catch a plane, so they take the party to the airport, but everyone gets so drunk that a passed-out Zhenya gets put on the plane instead. After it lands he's too drunk to realize that he's taken a taxi home to the wrong apartment in the wrong city. Hilarity and romance ensue when the woman who lives there comes home.
- In Bad Boys 2 members of The Mafiya meet up with the movie's Big Bad and get presented with their deceased colleague (in a bucket). Later on, when Mike and Marcus assault the mansion, Igor shows up as well absolutely fucking wasted calling himself the "Russian Grim Reaper of Death" and proceeds to lay waste to half of the mansion's illegal drug traffickers himself before trying to outdraw a peloton of SWAT team members who tell him to lay down his arms.
- In one Mamas Family episode, the family briefly hosts a Russian exchangee, Olga. While playing the board game version of Pyramid, Mama is describing items to take to the beach to Olga. This is Olga's reply to the clue for suntan lotion:
Mama: VODKA?! Who the hell takes vodka to the beach?!
- Some Cultural Posturing on Star Trek: The Original Series:
Scotty: When are you going to get off that milk diet, lad?
Chekov: This is vodka!
Scotty: Where I come from, that's soda pop. Now this is a drink for a man.
: It was inwented by a little old lady from Leningrad
- SCTV had an episode constantly being hacked by Soviet TV - an ad for vodka, that played like a Western beer commercial, shows a model worker relaxing at a bar with his friends after his shift, but as a responsible citizen of the State, he quits after one drink, in contrast to "the decadent Uzbeks", seen in a boorish, drunken daze. This is one of several examples seen of Uzbeks being held up as state-sanctioned Acceptable Targets.
- A Saturday Night Live skit from the year 2000 featured Bill Clinton (played by Darrell Hammond) having a Split-Screen Phone Call with Vladimir Putin (played by Will Ferrell), who had just taken over for Boris Yeltsin at the time. Putin mentions that he's getting rid of some of Yeltsin's things. Cut to a wide shot revealing that Putin is packing away countless alcohol bottles.
- This glorious performance from a Russian talent show.
- The chorus to the English version of Dschinghis Khan's Moskau gives us:
Moscow, Moscow, throw your glasses at the wall, And good fortune to us all, ho-ho-ho-ho-ho, hey!
Moscow, Moscow, join us for a casatchoknote , We'll go dancing round the clock, ha-ha-ha-ha-ha, hey!
Moscow, Moscow, drinking Vodka all night long, Keeps you happy, makes you strong, ho-ho-ho-ho-ho, hey!
Moscow, Moscow, come and have a drink and then, You will never leave again, ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!
- The epic Complete History Of The Soviet Union, Arranged To The Melody Of Tetris confirms that "The U.S. gave us crystal meth, and Yeltsin drank himself to death".
- "Vodka", by the Finnish band Korpiklaani (here featuring the cast of Touhou.
- LITTLE BIG's "Everyday I'm Drinking".
- The Russian bear is often drinking something topical in political cartoons.
- In the drinking/card game DrunkQuest the warrior class has an ushanka, uses a sickle as a weapon and has a preference for vodka.
- When Springfield is a candidate to host the Olympics, The elementary school puts on a performance for the International Olympic Committee - including an ill-fated "patriotic" stand-up act from Bart:
Bart: So, you're from Russia, huh?
Russian representative: Da!
Bart: You drunk yet?
Russian representative: (sadly) Da.
- Russians have absolutely no use for shot glasses. Vodka is commonly served "Sto gramm", which means "100 g" (which equals 0,1 l - that's a normal water-glass instead of a shot glass of 0,02 l). But they're not going literal and serve you a 0,25 l glass filled to the top as well. You're supposed to empty it like a normal shot, though.
- Boris Yeltsin. Especially in the later years of his presidency. At one point, while visiting Clinton in DC, Yeltsin turned up in his underwear on Pennsylvania Avenue, trying to hail cabs. During The Nineties, Jay Leno always first referred to Yeltsin in the monologue as "Boris 'Buy Me A Drink' Yeltsin." At one time, his plane was flying to Ireland for a refueling stopover, and the Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) was on hand to receive him. But instead of landing, the plane circled Shannon Airport and circled until it landed. But Yeltsin never made it off the plane, his doctor stating that the President was not feeling well. For a little while afterward, "circling over Shannon" became Irish slang for "trying desperately to sober up before an important event." This is referenced at one point in The Simpsons, where the highest possible reading on a breathalyzer's scale is "Boris Yeltsin". Among the other "achievements" of the Yeltsin administration were his contributions to modern dance and music conducting.
- Peter the Great.
- They say that way back when Russia was looking to implement a state religion, the authorities liked a lot of what Islam had to say (and liked even more the lucrative trade contacts that would come with converting, to say nothing of the chance to cement an alliance with the Turks and knock the Byzantine Empire out of its miserynote ), but upon realizing that it meant giving up alcohol, the idea was dropped entirely—it was too much a mainstay of life even then.
- During the Cold War, both major powers were looking for good Truth Serums to extract information from the enemy. The CIA looked into all kinds of mind-altering substances (including LSD) as part of Project MKULTRA, and were embarrassed by the FBI when all these exotic chemicals failed but the Bureau got actionable intelligence on a mob heist by lacing a captured mafioso's cigarettes with THC. The KGB, on the other hand, decided to just use vodka: agents trying to extract intel would get into a drinking contest with the other guy, and since the Russian (by this trope) would have much higher tolerance, the the other guy would probably start leaking secrets long before the agent.
- During the latter half of Leonid Brezhnev's tenure as leader of the Soviet Union, alcohol abuse skyrocketed among the Soviet population, to the point where the average life expectancy of the Soviet population took quite a hit.
- Up until the early 2010s, beer was not classified as an alcoholic beverage in Russian law; that dignity was reserved for beverages with 14% abv (28 proof) or greater. Anything less—including pretty much all beer—was considered a mere "foodstuff".
- It's been said that Americans make a distinction between those who drink and those who don't; Russians make a distinction between those who drink vodka and those who don't. Those who drink samogan (moonshine) are a separate category altogether. Good samogan clocks at least at 60% vol (120 proof), often 70% (140). The same status is reserved for medical antiseptic alcohol (96%, or 192 proof, mostly safe for consumption) or various surrogates of similar strength, many of which aren't so safe.
- It is probably no coincidence that Korsakoff's Syndrome was first described by and named after a Russian neurologist. While not actually caused by alcohol, it is often a side effect of alcoholism as alcohol provides the body with a lot of energy but virtually no nutrients at all and people who consume almost nothing but alcohol suffer from severe damage to the brain and nervous system from lack of vitamin B1. While it can be caused by other forms of malnutrition, this disease is what people are talking about when speaking of drinking your brain to death.
- Famous Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky had a drinking problem that is widely considered to have hindered his career and contributed to his early death.
- Upon hearing of the surrender of Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union partied so hard that the entire country ran out of vodka in ''less than a day''. The next day the ENTIRE COUNTRY was hungover and you would be lucky enough to buy a liter of vodka at the train station.
- Russian Tanks can run on vodka. As well as gasoline, and, really, anything liquid that burns, though not as good as on traditional diesel. For that matter, so do the drivers.
- Dmitri Mendeleev, discoverer of the Periodic Law and father of the Periodic Table of the Elements, wrote his dissertation in 1865, entitled, "On the Combinations of Water with Alcohol." This came in handy when, 28 years later, the Tsar put him in charge of the Bureau of Weights and Measures; one of of Mendeleev's first tasks was standardizing vodka, and he came out with a regulation that all vodka in Russia had to meet exacting standards of purity (having discovered the means of detecting impurities) and be 40% ethanol (a standard which not only persists today, but has spread around the world to be the standard strength of distilled liquor almost everywhere).
- How do they drink vodka in Northern countries? Sweden: With water. Finland: Without water. Russia: Like water.
- Oddly enough, "vodka" means "petty water" in Russian.
- In a subversion one Russian agent during World War II was sent to get into a drinking contest with a Turkish dignitary. However pretty soon the Russian was babbling like an idiot and the Turk was gleefully recording everything; Turks, being brought up on the formidable Raki (nicknamed Lion's Milk), know how to handle drink. For reference, Raki, due to its high anis contents, will turn milk-like opaque emulsion when water is added. "High", here, meaning over 90% alcohol.
- Norwegian Prime Minister Einar Gerhardsen once visited a Soviet Kolkhos (i.e. a "common farm"), and was served the traditional beverages. What the proprietor didn`t know, was that Gerhardsen never touched alcohol, and was served water. The local man-in-charge presumed it to be vodka, and entered a drinking contest with Gerhardsen. Every time Gerhardsen toasted, the proprietor did likewise, and drank with him. Over time the Russian started to get somewhat unstable, and had to excuse himself. Meanwhile, Gerhardsen continued in the same pattern with his glass of water, and got the reputation as an incredibly hard drinker, being able to drink an experienced Russian under the table. The Russian probably never learned the truth.
- The aforementioned superhero drinking tank brake fluid probably didn't need any superpowers to metabolize the stuff. Many technical fluids in the Soviet Army were indeed alcohol-based: the generals knew their men, were perfectly aware of the fact that they'll try to drink the fluids anyway and made sure no unfortunate accidents will result from this.
- The Poles are also affected by this, they always argue fiercely with the Russians over who's invented the Vodka/Wodka, which usually ends in both of them drinking together until they both pass out(which requires an awful lot).
In America you consume vodka. In Russia, vodka consumes you