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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

What to Do: Visit the Vodka Museum

MT
Russian traditions associated with drinking vodka can be baffling, and the penalties for misunderstandings come in 100-gram doses. If you'd like to know why tapping your neck is an invitation to drink, why Russians say a bottle of vodka is meant to be split three ways, or if you're just curious about how much alcohol Peter the Great could consume and still function normally, visit the Vodka Museum at Izmailovo.

The museum's exhibits trace the development of vodka from its origins as "aqua vita" in European monasteries to the explosion of private vodka production under Catherine the Great to Gorbachev's anti-alcohol campaign.

Each display depicts a historical moment in the production or consumption of Russian vodka, featuring artifacts from that particular time period. Among the more memorable artifacts is a replica of a 7-kilogram medal that Peter the Great hung around the neck of the most intoxicated person at his party. There are also depictions of Soviet soldiers, who during World War II enjoyed 100-gram rations of vodka before each battle. Meanwhile, the more contemporary displays show photographs of Soviet citizens, who at that time earned about a ruble a day, lining up outside liquor stores in the hopes of finding two drinking partners to split the 3 ruble cost of a bottle of vodka.

"All foreigners laugh when I show them the Yeltsin display," said Irina Zharkova, one of the museum's guides.

The final display features vodka after the fall of the Soviet Union. Zharkova said temporary lawlessness affected vodka production under Yeltsin. "There was no monopoly on production and, as a result, a lot of bad vodka was made."

After the tour, guests are invited to sample different varieties of vodka at the museum's tavern.

The museum is open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. To visit the museum without a guide costs 50 rubles for Russians and 100 rubles for foreigners. Guided tours cost 100 and 150 rubles, respectively, and are available in Russian and English.

73G Izmailovskoye Shosse, M. Partizanskaya, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., 166-69-58, www.vodkamuseum.ru