Top 5 vodkas--chosen by a Russian guy

Categories: 5 Great Bottles

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Our Russian guy: Jacob Tselniker of Continental Liquors

It is said that the Russian word for water--voda--is the root of the word vodka, so this tells you a little about how Russians feel about the stuff. Russia vodka production is said to date back to somewhere between the 9th and 12th centuries. Originally created for medicinal purposes, vodka still does cure many ails, and while many people are familiar with larger producers, many of the finer brands get ignored. This is why we asked a Russian guy his top 5 vodka picks.

Jacob Tselniker, native of Kiev and manager of Continental Liquors in the Sun Ray Mall in St. Paul, knows his vodka, and is never afraid to tell you, "that is shit!" in his endearing Russian accent, when you bring a crappy brand to the counter. Tselniker thinks vodka is best served with simple foods like smoked meat and fish, herring or caviar. He says vodka should be served cold, out of the refrigerator, but not keep in the freezer. For flavor, the ideal is smooth and clean, with no aftertaste, but as far as the finer characteristics go Tselniker says, "everyone needs to build their own taste." When we asked Tselniker what to look for when choosing a vodka, his answer was simple, "Listen to me." And so we listen.


"Some people drive 500 miles for this vodka," said Tselniker, "it is so smooth." Made outside of Moscow in the Kristall distillery--the oldest distillery in Moscow--Dolgoruki is made with glacier water and distilled four times--a classic Russian vodka. $29.99

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The Tall Blonde

The Tall Blond is made in Estonia, and is called "The Queen of Vodkas." Thought to be one of world's finest vodkas, the name comes the light blond grains from which it is made. This vodka is triple distilled and "Exceptionally smooth," per Tselniker. The Tall Blonde is also very sought after because very few liquor stores stock it. $32.99

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