Since the vodka became widespread in the 14th century Russia and Poland, many variations of this interesting drink were created all over the world. Its unique internal structure made it one of the basic ingredients for many cocktails, which further more fueled its popularity and need for different flavors. Because of its versatility, vodka is today consumed either neat, on the rocks or as a part of some of the hundreds popular cocktails - for example Red Eye, Bloody Mary, and Martini (which was popularized in James Bond movie franchise).
Some countries around the world have tried to classify vodka to several types and determine the basics constraints of their recipe (Russia and Poland limit their vodka's to 40% ABV, European Union has a minimum of 37.5%, and United States minimum of 40%). Also, hundreds of countries around the world have their own favored type of homemade vodka (moonshine), but they often don't try to follow the original vodka recipe and instead use their own rules.
The two most basics types of vodka are Neutral and Flavored.
Neutral vodka refers to the drink that is made from traditional Russian or Polish recipe. Its flavor comes exclusively from the alcohol aroma, and quantity of alcohol determines in which class the drink is categorized. Russians separate their natural vodkas into high quality, strong (with over 55% alcohol by volume) and export-worthy. Polish define their vodka into standard, premium and deluxe. United States used classic or regular types, and all of their vodkas are completely devoid of specific aromas. To distinguish themselves, manufacturers of neutral vodka in US use varying amounts of alcohol content, brand recognition and price.
Since the early days of vodka manufacture, brewers tried to find the way to give flavor to the neutral tasting vodka. Although this would negate its easy use in many famous cocktails, flavored vodka pretty soon started getting notable attention from the worldwide consumers. As the techniques for creating vodka became more advanced, brewers from all around the world started devising the ways to introduce many new flavors. Some of the best known flavored vodkas come from Russia and Poland - Limonnaya Vodka (lemon), Kubanskaya Vodka (lemon and orange), Pertsovka Vodka (peppercorns and chili peppers), Okhotnichya or Hunter Vodka (coffee, lemon, ginger, brandy and more). In recent years, fruit flavored vodkas started receiving much more popularity than before (oranges, apples, berries, and more).
Many countries around the world have accepted vodka as their national drinks (especially in Eastern Europe) and started changing the recipe of this drink to better suit their region. Poland likes to use potato and grain based vodkas, Russia, Belarus and Ukraine focus mostly on wheat and rye. Other Eastern European countries focus on other grains (same as UK and Germany), while France, Italy and Balkan region like to produce vodkas form fermented grapes and fruits (most notably Serbian plum based vodka "šljivovica", which is famous in entire Europe). Non-European countries also like to make their vodkas from molasses (that is case for US, Canada, Caribbean and Australia).
During the last several centuries, great number of famous vodka brands has managed to fight their way to the top of popularity chain. Consumers all around the world can chose between thousands of vodka brands, and some of the most popular are: