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Vodka usually has an alcohol content of 35% to 50% by volume. The classic Polish, Lithuanian and Russian vodka is 40% (80 proof). This can be attributed to the Russian standards for vodka production introduced in 1894 by Alexander III of Russia. According to the Vodka Museum in Moscow, Dmitri Mendeleev, a Russian chemist, found the perfect percentage to be 38. However, since spirits in his time were taxed on their strength, the percentage was rounded up to 40 to simplify the tax computation. At strengths less than this, Vodka drunk neat can taste "watery": above this strength, the taste of Vodka can have more "burn". Some governments set a minimum alcohol content for a spirit to be called "Vodka". For example, the European Union sets a minimum of 37.5% alcohol by volume.
Although Vodka is traditionally drunk neat in the Eastern European and Nordic countries of the "Vodka Belt", its popularity elsewhere owes much to its usefulness in cocktails and other mixed drinks, such as the Bloody Mary, the Screwdriver, the Vodka Tonic, Vodka Martini, and most recently Vodka Red Bull.
Recent innovation has introduced a plethora of flavored vodkas, creating the opportunity for mixologists to develop new recipes and flavor profiles. The flavors range from the common (lemon, lime, orange), to the astounding (vanilla, cake frosting, marshmallow and whipped cream) to the truly outrageous (bacon, pepper), allowing for a truly golden age of cocktails.