From Russia with Love

Hermitage and Winter Palace Russia

This stormy night in Florida conjures up an image in my mind of a rain-slicked street somewhere in Russia…gray and gloomy. Along those damp cobblestone streets and wrought iron bridges over the Neva River, Grigori Efimovich Rasputin, commonly known as Rasputin the Mad Russian, was said to have been the target of several assassination attempts due to his outspoken beliefs and philosophies.

It is said that Rasputin accepted money for political favors and turned around and gave it to the needy and poor. When I was in St. Petersburg, our guide Misha took great pride in showing us the bridge where Rasputin finally succumbed to an attacker.  The myths and legends surrounding him still live on with the people of Russia.

Russian vodkaWhat’s a visit to Russia without bringing home a bottle of real Russian vodka? ¬†Carefully placed in excess bubble-wrap, I lovingly carried home a true local Russian vodka which I had purchased in a small knick-knack shop.¬† I don’t think I will open it any time soon…or at least not until I re-visit St. Petersburg and purchase a replacement.

Believe it or not, no one says “Na zdorovje” as a Russian drinking cheer. Literally it means “To your health”, but it is only said as a reply to “Spasibo”- Thank you.

In tribute to Rasputin, here is a drink in his honor:

Mad Russian – will make one cocktail
1 oz. Vodka
1 oz. Kahlua Coffee Liqueur
1/2 oz. Bailey’s Irish Cream
1/2 oz. Butterscotch Schnapps
5-6 oz. Milk

Blending Instructions:
Fill glass with ice, add 1 shot each of vodka and Kahlua and the 1/2 shot each of Baileys and butterscotch.
Add milk.
Shake or stir

And don’t say “Na zdorovje!”