Is vodka good for you?

Because well-made vodka is very pure, a mixture of ethanol (alcohol) and water and little else, it has the reputation of being less harmful than almost any other comparable strong spirit. In other words, it is less likely to cause you a hangover.

Tests, as well as anecdotal evidence, have shown that on the hangover-ometer, vodka is on the far left, while gin, white wine, whisky, rum and (cheap) red wine all line up to the right of it, in increasing order of perniciousness. It is the congeners (impurities) that are the prime suspects for causing hangovers, and the absence of congeners that gives vodka its virtue.

Needless to say, this only applies if vodka is drunk in moderation.

Vodka also has a terrible reputation, especially where it is drunk to excess. In Russia, where half a litre is drunk per week per head of population, it is blamed for high rates of alcoholism, and as a contributing factor to low fertility and a declining birthrate, and a relatively low national life-expectancy. Also, cheap or home-distilled, bootleg or ‘bathtub’ vodka – widely available in the big-vodka-drinking countries – can have dire side-effects, because of the presence of additives, or impurities that would normally be removed by repeated distillation and filtration, such as methanol. In a notorious case in Estonia in 2001, 58 people died of methanol poisoning from illicit vodka.