Glorious Mother Russia. 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. They also tend to see green imps rather than Pink Elephants.
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 lifespan.note Vodka sales were also a prime source of revenue for the Russian government for much of its history, going as far back as the dawn of Tsarist Russia — arguably, the first ruler to use alcohol tax as a major source of revenue was Ivan the Terrible. Many bottles of cheap vodka in Russia came 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 reported to be marketed in recycled vodka flasks so people don't look cheap while drinking it.
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.
Nowadays, though, it is slowly going on its way towards Discredited Trope — not that anyone in the Fictionland has taken the notice, though. Ever since Turn of the Millennium alcohol consumption in Russia is on a steady decline, so much that by some measures Russians now drink less than Brits! This is largely due to the country slowly finding its feet again after The Great Politics Mess-Up, and the people discovering new things to do with their lives instead of drinking it away, and The Government's easing up on the alcohol tax — since 2000 much of the state revenue came from the oil money, not booze, and in The New '10s other industries have increasingly started to become profitable as well, for which the healthy and sober populace is generally a good thing.
This is still something of an uphill battle, and there's the aforementioned Two Decades Behind tendency, so while drinking is slowly becoming unfashionable in real life, we may safely rely on this stereotype in fiction for at least a full decade more.
- 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.
- Subverted in Classi9 with Tchaikovsky. He can sure drink a lot, and is as eager to get others drunk if his drinking contests with the others are anything to go by, but vodka has little to no effect on him and therefore, he was never seen drunk.
- 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.
- In Yuri!!! on Ice, Viktor gets trashed often, though he prefers beer instead of vodka.
- Memories Magnetic Rose has Ivanov. He's not drunk in the short but he does keep liquor on hand, even while in space.
- Sensorso Bear from Squirrel and Hedgehog symbolizes Russia. He's a lazy drunkard.
- 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. Vas claims at one point, when Hughie is the only one to not come down with a poison that was somehow killed by the stuff, that "this shit would probably kill AIDS virus."
- 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 Rising Stars, Jason is able to steal almost all of Russia's nuclear arsenal because the men assigned to guard it are hammered.
- In the Love Live! fanfic Flowers Drenched In Vodka the half-Russian and half-Japanese Eli suffers from alcoholism. Eli is abusive towards her girlfriend Hanayo while drunk. Both Hanayo and Eli realize that Eli needs to do something about her illness however Eli prefers to shove it under the rug and keep it a secret. This comes to a head when Eli beats Hanayo so badly due to mistaking her for cheating that the police are called in, she's arrested, Hanayo is put in the hospital for a concussion, and their friends learn of their issues. Afterwards Hanayo tells Eli that she either needs to go to rehab or she'll press charges, and the two take a break from their relationship.
- In A.A. Pessimal's Strandpiel, we meet the Ankh-Morpork Air Police. The commander and deputy commander of the air police are Discworld Russians. Lieutenantnote Olga Romanoff decrees the wings of a new pilot who has just gone solo for the first time should be wetted, according to time-honoured tradition. In vodka. Olga is also celebrating a more personal happy event and reasoning that being pregnant should not affect her ability to have a drink. And that her unborn child had better get a head for it early. A riotous party ensues and the new pilot becomes happily drunk.
- Happens a lot in Kantai Collection fanfic and fan comics, with the usual suspect being the formerly-Japanese, now Soviet destroyer Verniy. Examples include Yua's Fleet Journal, Ido's long-running untitled comic, and CV12Hornet's Things Involving Shipgirls That Are No Longer Allowed. (Note that Verniy's original characterization has nothing to do with alcohol in general or vodka in particular.)
- 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.
- There is a joke about a Finn and a Russian going into the woods with a few days' worth of vodka. The Russian ends up making small talk with the Finn (stereotyped as EXTREMELY quiet outside of the sauna) after a few days. The Finn says something along the lines of "Shut up. We came here to drink, not talk."
- 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 another Russian comedy, Hussar Ballad, the protagonist, Shura (a girl disguised as a man), tries to blend in with other officers, which involves consuming a lot of alcohol. Hilarity Ensues.
- Vasiliy Stalin in The Death of Stalin. he was an alcoholic in Real Life and drank himself to death two days before his 40th birthday.
- In Bad Boys II, 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 platoon of SWAT team members who tell him to lay down his arms.
- Subverted in Star Trek Beyond; Chekov prefers scotch to vodka and is never seen drunk on-duty.
- In the 1935 version of Anna Karenina, Vronsky and his buddies engage in a drinking game in which each soldier has to take three shots and then crawl under the table from one end to another. And then again, and again, and again. After he wins by virtue of being the last person not passed out on the floor, Vronsky staggers over to his buddy Stiva and says "Now we can settle down and do some drinking."
- In the novels featuring the Russian Investigator Arkady Renko, Gorky Park, Polar Star, Red Square, Havana Bay, Wolves Eat Dogs and Stalin's Ghost, Russia is pretty much shown as a place where everyone drinks and smokes. Constantly. In fact, when Renko is locked inside a storage freezer by a bad guy and almost freezes to death, everybody simply assumes he accidentally locked himself in there while trying to get high on gasoline fumes (he was actually trying to light an oily rag to set off the alarm system to get help).
- From the Jack Ryan series:
- Colonel Filitov from The Cardinal of the Kremlin is seen drinking almost every time he appears in one of the books, and mentions that "he wouldn't have gotten sick if he'd had a little more antifreeze." Much of that drinking is to try to forget about his dead family, whose deaths were part of what drove him to become The Mole for the CIA.
- A lot of other Russian characters in the series are also often seen drinking (with vodka being the tipple of choice), though most of them usually aren't drunk.
- Alcoholism is a plot-relevant off-"screen" detail in The Hunt for Red October: The wife of the renegade submarine captain Ramius died of complications from appendicitis. The doctor that was to perform the surgery was drunk, and while breathing pure oxygen to try to sober up her appendix burst. The still-inebriated doctor fumbled the surgery to remove the burst organ, resulting in the death of the wife of Ramius. Ramius' dissatisfaction with the Soviet state started at this point, when the surgeon wasn't punished because he was the son of a high-ranking party official. note
- Vorkosigan Saga: Barrayar, which is at least to some extent Russia IN SPACE, has "getting drunk" as one of the great traditions.
- Moscow - Petushki. While many Russian writers try to subvert or avert this one-dimensional stereotype, Venedikt Yerofeyev, who modelled the protagonist after himself, plays it painfully straight, and with good reasons. Although vodka was not the protagonist's main tipple. What he usually drank was worse—in some cases, possibly even dangerous. Although all of the recipes in the book should be essentially harmless—if you consider drinks with over 50% alcohol harmless.
- The Bridge to Holy Cross by Paullina Simons. The female protagonist, a former Russian nurse who's come to the United States, is going to travel with a Red Cross team into the Soviet Zone in now-conquered Germany. Her superior complains about the amount of booze she's packed.
"Have you ever met Russians before?"
"Trust me, we will need the vodka."
- The Primary Chronicle, a Russian historical account written in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, includes the statement, "It is the Russians' joy to drink; we cannot do without it."
- One novel about the USSR's mental health institutions had several doctors joking about the state of their nation. One claimed that Russia had achieved Communism. Another stated they were still practicing Socialism. A third claimed that they were backsliding into Capitalism. A fourth stated that the true state of Russia was Alcoholism.
- Animorphs: During one mission to prevent the Yeerks invading a world summit, Rachel (in elephant morph) crashes into a world leader's room, sitting in his underwear and drunk out of his mind. She doesn't name him, but one of the leaders is Russian.
- In The Amber Spyglass, Will at one point ends up in the care of a very drunk Russian priest while searching for Lyra.
- Downplayed with the Russian Badass Preacher Father Dimitri in Victoria, who throws down a lot of vodka, but is never impaired by it and by and large seems to have the habit under control.
- In the Dick Simon duology, while Dick is at the academy, his boss asks him why he doesn't drink. While he doesn't do it because he was largely raised by the four-armed natives of Tayahat, who don't drink, his usual excuse is that his father is Mormon. The boss calls bullshit on that excuse, pointing out that his mother was Russian, and (according to her), Russians will drink anything that isn't "mule's piss". So, Dick is forced to learn to drink and hold his liquor. Also, she met his father, who isn't a practicing Mormon. Furthermore, she knows full well that Dick drinks hot tea and coffee, which are supposedly forbidden in Mormon faith. Besides, he's training to be a CIA agent (yes, it still exists in the distant future), and avoiding alcohol would look suspicious if he were ever to go undercover. So he's ordered to learn to drink, and also to quickly learn Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, and Ukrainian (he's a bit stumped by the last one, but agrees). His Texan instructor immediately agrees to pair off each languages with the appropriate beverage: tequila for Spanish, rum for Portuguese, horilka (Ukrainian vodka) for Ukrainian... crap! What would they drink for Arabic? They settle on mixing sherbet with gin.
- In Blood Promise, Rose visits Russia for Dimitri's funeral. Naturally, alcohol is being passed around...though not the grade she's used to.
"What is this?"
"No, it isn't. I've had vodka before."
"Not Russian vodka."
- Nearly every character in Chernobyl drinks a lot of vodka. Probably justified, given what they were going through at the time. Anyone would need a freaking drink after getting exposed to dangerous amounts of radiation in a desperate attempt to stop it from contaminating all of Europe, trying to get the Soviet bureaucracy to do something useful, or shooting pets so that they wouldn't die of radiation poisoning or contaminate areas outside the exclusion zone.
- In one Mama's 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.
Chekov: 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.
- On World's Dumbest..., more than half the clips from Russia involve alcohol. This always gets Frank Stallone going about how much he hates Russia.
- In an episode of The West Wing, a Ukrainian Parliamentarian named Vasily Konanov shows up at the White House, eager to meet the President. And by "shows up," we mean "crashes the front gate and demands to meet the President loudly in Ukrainian until someone takes him inside."
- 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 casatchok,note 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".
- Russian-American musician Regina Spektor depicts herself chugging an unnamed alcoholic beverage while wearing a colonel's hat on the cover of her 2004 album ''Soviet Kitsch.''◊ Some promotional images for the album show her in a similar pose.
- "Vodka," by the Finnish band Korpiklaani.
- LITTLE BIG's "Everyday I'm Drinking."
- Robbie Williams' "Party Like a Russian".
- 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.
- Trope Namer: True to the ongoing theme in Punch-Out!! of boxers based on absurd stereotypes, Russian combatant Vodka Drunkenski followed this trope to the letter — in the arcade version. The NES version Bowdlerised his name to Soda Popinski, but all his taunts still make obvious references to alcohol and drunkenness. When not boxing, he spent his time between rounds suckling a soda bottle and making puns about being punch-drunk or unable to drive. In the Wii game, soda really is the focus of his obsession. He fizzes and bubbles when punched. There are still some hints at being a drunkard: When taking out his bottle, he says "За моё здоровье!" (Za moyo zdorove!) which is Russian for "For my health!" (a common alcohol toast line), and if the player knocks away his bottle, he'll say "Моя бутылка!" (Moya butylka!), meaning "My bottle!" and fly into a rage and attempt to beat Little Mac up using his Soda Fury technique. Incidentally, the toast may be a bit of Leaning on the Fourth Wall, because it really does recover his health.
- Metal Gear:
- Granin from Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. The game even takes place in the USSR, so it's not as though this was the one Russian character in the cast. MGS3 fanfic tends to portray everyone at Groznyj Grad like this.
- In Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops, we have Colonel Skowronski, the former commander of the San Hieronymo Soviet Missile Base, who is heavily implied to be drunk in his appearance (he was slurring his words a lot of the time, laughing at seemingly inappropriate times, and Roy Campbell refers to him as a drunk when he calls you right after you locate him). Actually, several of the soldiers on the San Hieronymo Peninsula were implied to drink a lot (one of the calls to Para-Medic, should she be recruited, has her being confused about why they were having headaches at the height they are at as the mountains shouldn't be high enough to cause altitude sickness, until she realizes that they actually had amplified hangovers from drinking too much alcohol at the height they currently were at). It's probably justifiable that they did so, considering the fact that their nation essentially screwed them over by abandoning them at the peninsula shortly after they abandoned the construction plans in order to make it seem as though they were renegade Russians.
- Nikolai Belinski from Call of Duty: Zombies. Every quote he says basically refers to vodka and getting drunk in some way. In fact, he actually can't function without vodka, or a "vodka-based serum".
- Averted in Team Fortress 2. The massive Russian Heavy Weapons Guy? Nothing passes his lips but Sandviches. The team alcoholic? The Scottish Demoman. It must be said, though, that the Scots are one of very, very few cultures who might conceivably hold their own in a drinking game with the Russians.note
- In Mercenaries 2, we have Misha, whose alcoholism is arguably justified by his being a jet-flying Drunken Master. Also, he claims that his jet is in such bad condition that nobody would voluntarily get into it while sober.
Misha: Some people call me a stereotype. Have no stereo, can't type. SO THERE!
- Fortune teller Kalderasha in Dragon Quest VIII, after losing his crystal ball.
- Randall Lovikov from No More Heroes.
- Operation Flashpoint:
- During the mission "Undercover", a fellow resistance fighter in civilian clothes convinces a Russian checkpoint squad to let our truck go through by inviting them to some vodka
- Russian soldiers talk about how "they are gonna get wasted when they get back home" during the cutscene in the mission "Escape from Prison"
- In the Red Hammer campaign, after saving a Damsel in Distress , the protagonist Dmitri Lukin needs a good drink first.
- Shadow Of Chernobyl features this trope rather blatantly. The game is set in the former USSR (the Chernobyl exclusion zone in Ukraine/Belarus to be exact) and if the player's radiation meter gets too high, vodka of all things can be used as a cheap means to rid the body of radiation. Also, while vodka causes the screen to sway and flash white, there is actually no limit to how much your Slavic character can drink. In other words, it is fully possible to load up on over one hundred bottles of vodka, drink them all within ten seconds, and somehow come out of it with no more than a very wobbly screen and repeated flashes of white. After about a minute, the wobbling comes to an abrupt halt and you'll be perfectly fine.
- Serious intoxication is almost bound to happen in the first game - at one point, you have to raid a bandit base (alone, to boot) to get a key to a nearby underground lab off their leader and if you poke around in the right area can raid their armory. There's nothing too staggeringly awesome in there - they're bandits, not Duty or the Monolith - but if you look in the right box you can find almost thirty bottles of vodka. You have a weight limit of fifty kilograms (of which you'll probably be carrying at least thirty or forty in armor, guns, ammo, medical supplies, food, artifacts, and stuff you looted from the corpses of the bandits you just killed), a bottle of vodka weighs half a kilo apiece, and chances are you'll never be through this area again. Drunkenness (and possibly drunken gunfighting) ensues.
- In Call of Pripyat, the mechanic in the first area cannot make modifications to your equipment without vodka, even if he has the tools. One drink is a small discount and first tier upgrades, two drinks is a higher discount and all upgrades... and three drinks puts him to sleep for a few hours. He claims it helps him keep his hands steady. May be Drowning His Sorrows over lost friends, too. It crosses over into Drunken Master, although if you find and bring him the PDAs of his buddies and show him the Gauss Rifle, which he worked on in the past, he gets over his alcoholism and joins up with the other technician after the game ends.
- Subverted in the same game; vodka for some reason depletes your nourishment level and drinking at least six bottles of vodka can actually kill you. Yet this is also amusingly double subverted if you have at least a loaf of bread or other piece of food in your bag as you can munch it up and keep on drinking then rinse-wash-repeat.
- Grigori the informant from Alpha Protocol. Thorton can even mock him by smashing a bottle over his head and saying he spilled his wodka.
- In the Tropico games, being an Alcoholic gives a boost to USSR relations.
- Metro 2033 takes place After the End in and around the Moscow subway system. Since the agricultural infrastructure of the world has been destroyed by nuclear war, their vodka is made from mushrooms.
- While Zangief from Street Fighter goes for a different huge Russian stereotype, those who look closely at his home stage in either Street Fighter II or Super SFII will immediately notice that at least two people in the crowds are chugging down on bottles of what seems to be vodka.
- Dukov in Fallout 3.
- Played to the hilt in the final level of Destroy All Humans! 2, where Crypto has to sabotage a Soviet / alien alliance, but every argument he has falls flat, until he gets desperate and yells the last thing he can think of: "They're takin' away your vodka!" The assembled cosmonauts are horrified and outraged, immediately turning on their alien allies en masse.
- Dmitri from Spacetrawler.
- Russia from the Polandball meme/comic series is very often shown drunk and/or with a bottle of hard liquor in hand. Finland also loves his vodka, partly because his home is cold, dark, and depressing, and partly because he has to put up with Russia.
- Subverted in Cyanide & Happiness. A Russian character decries another character's beer and proclaims his preference for vodka... in the form of fruity cocktails.
- The Simpsons: 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), and a smallest standard drink is usually 0,05 l. But they're not going literal and will often serve you a 0,25 l glass filled to the top as well. Historically, before metrication, this was even reflected by the standard liquid measures, centred around "charka" (cup) of 123 ml, considered a normal drink of vodka (though much less strong than now, roughly about 28-30% abv, unless we're talking about nobility-grade vodka which clocked up to 70%) or wine, with a shot being half of that. After the introduction of the new measures, these were metricated to 100 and 50 ml respectively.
- World War II took this to an institutionalized level, with each Soviet soldier being entitled to the famous hundred grams of vodka daily. A common practice was that the men in a unit would pool their rations and take turns drinking themselves to stupefaction. While this liquid courage was no small virtue in an army that suffered 8 million dead, it also meant that at any given moment a large portion of the Red Army was tanked off its ass, with all the fun things implied in having a huge number of drunk men with guns and vehicles. On top of that, their German adversaries are hopped up on methamphetamine and other experimental narcotics. No one dares to venture the Eastern Front sober.
- Catherine the Great tried to avert this. She went looking for a way to give her army a proper alcohol ration (remember, these were the days before water purification), but one that was much less likely to lead to an army of drunks. So, she contracted with the English to make a beer that would do the trick. While Imperial Stout beers are much less alcoholic than vodka, they still have more of an ABV kick than most non-fortified beers (about 9-12%).
- Boris Yeltsin. Especially in the later years of his presidency. At one point, while visiting Bill Clinton in Washington, D.C., Yeltsin turned up in his underwear on Pennsylvania Avenue, trying to hail cabs. During The '90s, 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 really loved his booze.
- They say that when Vladimir the Great of Kievan Rus' (the precursor to both Russia and Ukraine) decided it was time to abandon paganism, he said to have studied the religions of neighboring countries. While 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 ) upon realizing that it meant giving up alcohol, the idea was dropped entirely—it was too much a mainstay of life even then. Hence the page quote.
- 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.
- French artists of yore killed themselves with absinthe. Russians, naturally, preferred vodka:
- Famous Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky had a drinking problem that is widely considered to have hindered his career and contributed to his early death.
- An equally famous artist Alexei Savrasov, known for his landcapes, was an accomplished alcoholic by middle age, andnote lived on the streets, paying for booze, food and shelter with his paintings. Eventually he was committed into the asylum, where he died, drunk and destitute, and art critics invented an awesome classification category of "drunk Savrasov".
- 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). Ironically, one of the consequences of Mendeleev's involvement was a switch from the traditional distillation to simply diluting the rectified grain alcohol with water to the required strength, which, while successful in its goal of ensuring the drink's purity, has completely changed its character. What originally was not unlike the unaged grain whisky, became the neutral spirit later known for.
- How do they drink vodka in Northern countries? Sweden: With water. Finland: Without water. Russia: Like water. Oddly enough, "vodka" means "little water" in Russian. Or, alternately, it might be a contraction of "razvodka" or "dilution" — a crucial step in its production, as when vodka was still produced by distillation, both first and second distillation were diluted in half (by weight) with spring water, ending with the 38-39% abv strength, from which the now traditional 40% abv ultimately derives.
- 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 50% alcohol. Oddly, while Turkey is officially a secular state, its population is 96 percent Muslim. A religion that forbids drinking in a nation that invented one of the most powerful alcoholic beverages known to man.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 ethyl 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. A famous example of this comes with Russian Air Force: the standard anti-icing solution on many military planes is... ethanol spraying. Somehow, weather conditions logged on air bases used to be consistently worse then ones from a civilian airports / meteo stations just a couple kilometers away...
- 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).
- Becoming a slightly discredited trope with younger Russians, who tend to prefer beer, cocktails, and alcopop compared to the muzhik way of vodka by the bottle. Fortunately, at least some of them can still vodka like champs, just not with the expertise of their older soviet dyadi.
- Liberal Democratic Party Leader and shameless psycho clown Vladimir Zhirinovsky had promised free vodka for everyone if elected president.
- There is an old Russian joke that the intermediate stage between socialism and communism is alcoholism.
- An amusing bit of trivia is that the word for "grape" is the same as the word for "vineyard" in Russian: vinograd. As in, the default context the Russian language affords to the grape is that it's where wine comes from ("Can you also eat them?" "Eh, probably.").
- There is a (possibly anecdotal) story about an Aeroflot pilot who started to see pixies and fairies flying in the airspace around his aircraft. He mentioned this to the company doctor during a checkup. The doctor frowned and suggested this phenomenon was down to the two bottles of vodka the pilot consumed each day. But he suggested a solution that would allow the pilot to keep flying.
Two bottles is a bit excessive, don't you think? Try to cut down to no more than one, comrade!
- A news article on the controversy over Robbie Williams' "Party Like a Russian" (see Music section above) cited that Russians are "ridiculously good partiers" who "have lived under unpredictable governments for generations" and that "they party like there's no tomorrow because there may very well not be one."
- Ivan Ukhov, a Russian athlete who, at the 2008 Athletissima in Lausanne, attempted to participate in the high jump after consuming numerous vodka and Red Bulls. It went about as well as one would expect. Funnily enough, the same guy wold win Olympic gold 4 years later, presumably after being read the riot act by his sponsors.
- During the Cold War, Pepsi managed to convince the USSR to allow the sale of their sugary drink in the nation. However, the USSR's currency was effectively worthless on the global market. Instead, the deal was a straight exchange of Pepsi for an equal amount of Vodka.
In America you consume vodka. In Russia, vodka consumes you.