Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Binge Drinking? The English Come A Poor Second

If the English think they lead the world in binge drinking, they had better think again. I have just been reading an article that defies belief. Sergei Kondratyev, a Russian from Yekaterinburgh city, was laid-off from his job, and feeling "awfully disappointed" decided to take himself off to the grocery store and bought a bottle of vodka and two lumps of cream cheese. He was later joined by a friend, who was described as 'of large stature' and presumably therefore able to hold his drink. It appears that shortly after that, unhappy Sergei's recollections became very hazy. Following the drinking session Sergei found himself in the Yekaterinburgh hospital. Neurosurgeon, Stanislav Chursin who attended him said, "We did the analysis and gasped ...According to the most modest estimate, the man drank no less than eight bottles." He added, "His blood contained as a minimum, twice the deadly dose." The patient, described as clutching his head while he was interviewed, has vowed not to touch another drop. Vodka in Russia is typically 80 proof or 40 percent alcohol, and sold in half-litre bottles (about 35 imperial ounces, 33.8 US ounces).
According to Encyclopedia Britannica vodka originated in Russia during the 14th century, and the name is a diminutive of the Russian voda (water). It was not originally called vodka - instead the term 'bread wine' was used. Until the mid-18th century, it remained relatively low in alcohol content, was mostly sold in taverns and was quite expensive. The first written usage of the word vodka in an official Russian document in its modern meaning is dated by the decree of Empress Elizabeth of June 8, 1751, which regulated the ownership of vodka distilleries. The taxes on vodka became a key element of government finances in Tsarist Russia, providing at times up to 40% of state revenue.