The Vodka Rule You Should Always Follow In Russia

There are many rules to follow when traveling abroad. Foreign cities and countries observe unique traditions and abide by different etiquette best practices. As you may have guessed, many of these cultural practices involve food and drink. If you ever find yourself in Russia, you'll encounter lots of incredible, delicious culinary indulgences — from mouthwatering chicken Kiev and succulent salmon coulibiac to savory cabbage soup to spicy-sweet apple sharlotka.

And as far as drinking goes, you are bound to come across plenty of vodka — the drink of choice for many Russians. The potato-based distilled spirit has gained massive global popularity over the span of millennia. It can be enjoyed plain, and is also a staple ingredient in many iconic cocktails, including martinis, gimlets, screwdrivers, Bloody Marys, cosmopolitans, Moscow mules, and white Russians.

So, what happens when you are presented with the clear-colored, tasteless libation? Learning proper vodka etiquette is both important and fun!

What should you do when offered vodka in Russia?

You drink it, of course! According to Business Insider, if you are ever offered a drink of vodka when in Russia, never turn it down — even if you are not a big vodka drinker. Why not? Sharing vodka in the company of others is considered a symbol of trust, respect, and friendship. In fact, rejecting the spirit or not partaking in a toast can be considered rude. Other bad-mannered behaviors include pouring your own shot (the toaster should always pour it for you), mixing your vodka with juices or other "chasers" (this shows you don't appreciate the genuine taste), or leaving the empty bottle on the table (this is simply a bad omen), reports Pristine Vodka.

Drinking vodka is a conventional practice in Russia. It's also important to know that vodka is traditionally enjoyed as a toast and should be knocked back in a single shot, not sipped slowly like a typical beverage. What if you're not super keen on vodka? Thankfully, according to Urban Adventures, it's common that, in order for seasoned drinkers to fully appreciate the vodka, they wash it down with a glass of water afterwards. Another way to relish in the spirit? Enjoy it with zakuska, or a salty snack like meat slices, caviar, cheeses, or salted cucumber. Za zdorovie!