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Russiavodkaaaa
"Vodkaaaaaaa~"

Ripper: Have you ever seen a Commie drink a glass of water?

Mandrake: Well, I can't say I have.

Ripper: Vodka, that's what they drink, isn't it? Never water?

Glorious Mother Russia. Supposedly, it's the coldest place on the planet, and really depressing. The obvious solution to this problem? Booze. Copious, even Egregious amounts of booze. (Drink up!) So much, in fact, that there's a good chance a Russian character on television will be an alcoholic, or at least will look for the slightest excuse to find somebody to go get drunk with.

Somewhat Truth in Television: alcoholism is a rather large problem in Russia and is a major contributor to high suicide rates and lowered average lifespan[1]. Vodka sales are also a prime source of revenue for the Russian government going as far back as the days of Tsarist Russia. Many bottles of cheap vodka in Russia come with a paper pull tab rather than a screw-top. Because it's going to be drunk in one sitting. Like its owner. In fact, aftershave is marketed in recycled vodka flasks so people don't look cheap while drinking it.

They tend to see green imps rather than Pink Elephants.

Examples of Vodka Drunkenski include:


Anime and Manga

  • Quoted AND pictured above: Axis Powers Hetalia was bound to feature this seeing as its premise calls for spoofing National Stereotypes. Vodka is to Russia as "Pastaaaa~!" is to Italy.
  • It's probably not coincidental that the drunken Hei at the beginning of season 2 of Darker Than Black was stationed in Russia.
  • In Yugo The Negotiator, Yugo is very quick to recognize the vodka gesture while on a train during the Russia arc. Drinking quickly ensues.
  • General White from Dragon Ball is heavily implied to be of Russian origin, and sure enough, he spends a lot of his time drinking a substance that's presumably Vodka.

Comic Books

  • When The Boys go to Russia, they stay with a Russian ex-superhero who drinks some unholy abomination made liquid that no one (but Hughie) drinks- they just toss it back over their shoulders. We later learn it's not vodka, it's made with, among others, tank brake fluid. And Hughie grows to like the stuff.
    • Truth in Television -- some types of brake fluid in Russia are indeed just alcohol denatured with castor oil. After some freeze-purifying they are drinkable without major ill effects except some loose bowels -- castor oil is a powerful laxative and what remains still has some potency.
  • When Lucky Luke is the bodyguard of a Russian grand Duke, said embassador likes to shout "Fedia! Vodka!" and "Fredia! Visky!".
  • Alex "Spaceman" Glushko in Top Ten is a former cosmonaut and special interrogator for the eponymous police department. He drinks, a lot - which is a problem for his co-workers since he mainly communicate telepathically, meaning they get his headache, too.

Film

  • In Doctor Strangelove, we only hear President Muffley's side of the conversation with Soviet Premier Kisov, but even without the ambassador's word on the matter it's fairly obvious that Kisov is sloshed.
  • Ivan Vanko in Iron Man 2 is very fond of his vodka.
    • Even the burd loves vodka.
  • The Russians acknowledge the stereotype as well. Case in point, the Peculiarities Of The National Hunt, a film where a group of men (all of which as Russian except for a young Finnish man studying Russian customs) go hunting, only to spend several days mostly drinking. One of the men is an army general, so when the hunting party forgets several crates of vodka, his men have them airlifted via helicopter. The Finnish guy even asks his friend when they're actually going to to hunt something. An interesting twist is that the Finnish man keeps dreaming of an old-fashioned Tsarist hunt, involving dogs, horses, and dozens of men, who, despite also drinking, actually do hunt.
    • Rather ironic considering that Finns are also stereotyped as heavy drinkers - sometimes by the Russians themselves!
    • The film was followed by three other Peculiarities of the National... films. The second film involved fishing, the third had another hunt, and the fourth was about politics. All of which, naturally, involve a lot of drinking.

Literature

  • In the novels featuring the Russian Investigator Arkady Renko, Gorky Park, Polar Star, Red Square, Havana Bay, Wolves Eat Dogs and Stalin's Ghost, Russia is pretty much shown as a place where everyone drinks and smokes. Constantly.
    • In fact, when Renko is locked inside a storage freezer by a bad guy and almost freezes to death, everybody simply assumes he accidentally locked himself in there while trying to get drunk on lighter fluid.
  • Colonel Filitov from Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan novels fits. He's seen drinking almost every time he appears in one of the books, and mentions that "he wouldn't have gotten sick if he'd had a little more antifreeze."
    • There is a reason for that, though: his family was killed in a series of accidents relating to quality control in the Soviet industrial sector, and he blames the death of his WWII comrades on poor leadership by the State.
    • A lot of other Russian characters in that series are also often seen drinking (with vodka being the tipple of choice), though most of them usually aren't drunk.
  • Barrayar which is, at least to some extent, Russia In Space, has "getting drunk" as one of the great traditions.
  • Moscow Petushki. While many Russian writers try to subvert or avert this one-dimensional stereotype, Venedikt Yerofeyev, who modelled the protagonist after himself, plays it painfully straight, and with good reasons
    • Apparently, Moscow Petushki protagonist drank vodka not so often. Usually, his drinking habit involved much worse, or even impossible for consuming fluids (such as acetone). Still not sure if it was for gags.
  • The Bridge to Holy Cross by Paullina Simons. The female protagonist, a former Russian nurse who's come to the United States, is going to travel with a Red Cross team into the Soviet Zone in now-conquered Germany. Her superior complains about the amount of booze she's packed.

 "Have you ever met Russians before?"

"No..."

"Trust me, we will need the vodka."

Live Action TV

  • In one Mamas Family episode, the family briefly hosts a Russian exchangee, Olga. While playing the board game version of Pyramid, Mama is describing items to take to the beach to Olga. This is Olga's reply to the clue for suntan lotion:

 Olga: Vodka.

Mama: VODKA?! Who the hell takes vodka to the beach?!

Olga: EVERYBODY!

Music

 Moscow, Moscow, throw your glasses at the wall, And good fortune to us all, ho-ho-ho-ho-ho, hey!

Moscow, Moscow, join us for a casatchok[2], We'll go dancing round the clock, ha-ha-ha-ha-ha, hey!

Moscow, Moscow, drinking Vodka all night long, Keeps you happy, makes you strong, ho-ho-ho-ho-ho, hey!

Moscow, Moscow, come and have a drink and then, You will never leave again, ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!

Newspaper Comics

  • The Russian bear is often drinking something topical in political cartoons.

Video Games

  • Trope Namer: True to the ongoing theme in Punch Out of boxers based on absurd stereotypes, Russian combatant Vodka Drunkenski followed this trope to the letter -- in the arcade version. The NES version Bowdlerised his name to Soda Popinski, but all his taunts still make obvious references to alcohol and drunkenness. When not boxing, he spent his time between rounds suckling a soda bottle and making puns about being punch-drunk or unable to drive.
    • In the Wii game, soda really is the focus of his obsession. He fizzes and bubbles when punched! On the other hand, there were still some hints at being a drunkard: When taking out his bottle, he says "За моё здоровье!" which is Russian for "For my health!" (a common alcohol toast line), and if the player knocks away his bottle, he'll say "Моя бутылка!" ("My bottle!") and fly into a rage and attempt to beat Little Mac up using his Soda Fury technique. Incidentally, the toast may be a bit of Leaning on the Fourth Wall, because it does recovers his health.
  • Granin from Metal Gear Solid 3 Snake Eater. Although, arguably, he had a pretty good reason for getting drunk. It also should be noted that the game takes place in the USSR, so it's not as though this was the one Russian character in the cast.
    • MGS3 fanfic tends to portray everyone at Groznyj Grad like this. Then again, if someone had to work under Volgin and see the things he does to people... They wouldn't want to be sober.
    • In Metal Gear Solid Portable Ops, we have Colonel Skowronski, the former commander of the San Hieronymo Soviet Missile Base, who is heavily implied to be drunk in his appearance (he was slurring his words a lot of the time, laughing at seemingly inappropriate times, and Roy Campbell refers to him as a drunk when he calls you right after you locate him). Actually, several of the soldiers on the San Hieronymo Peninsula were implied to drink a lot (one of the calls to Para-Medic, should she be recruited, has her beign confused about why they were having headaches at the height they are at as the mountains shouldn't be high enough to cause altitude sickness, until she realizes that they actually had amplified hangovers from drinking too much alcohol at the height they currently were at). It's probably justifiable that they did so, considering the fact that their nation essentially screwed them over by abandoning them at the peninsula shortly after they abandoned the construction plans in order to make it seem as though they were Renegade Russians.
  • Nikolai Belinski from Call of Duty World at War's Nazi Zombies mode. Every quote he says basically refers to vodka and getting drunk in some way. In fact, he actually can't function without vodka, or a "vodka-based serum".
  • Averted in Team Fortress 2. The Massive Russian Guy? Nothing passes his lips but Sandviches. The team alcoholic? The Scotsman. It must be said, though, that that the Scots are one of a very, very few cultures who might conceivably hold their own in a drinking game with the Russians. He does favours a peach bellini., and is senstive to both alchohol and carbonation.
  • In Mercenaries 2, we have Misha, whose alchoholism is arguably justified by his being a jet-flying Drunken Master.
  • Fortune teller Kalderasha in Dragon Quest VIII, after losing his crystal ball.
  • Randall Lovikov from No More Heroes.
  • STALKER Shadow of Chernobyl features this trope rather blatantly. The game is set in the former USSR (the Chernobyl exclusion zone in Ukraine/Belarus to be exact) and if the player's radiation meter gets too high, vodka of all things can be used as a cheap means to rid the body of radiation. Also, while vodka causes the screen to sway and flash white, there is actually no limit to how much your Slavic character can drink. In other words, it is fully possible to load up on over one hundred bottles of vodka, drink them all within ten seconds, and somehow come out of it with no more than a very wobbly screen and repeated flashes of white. After about a minute, the wobbling comes to an abrupt halt and you'll be perfectly fine.
    • In Call of Pripyat, the mechanic in the first area cannot make modifications to your equipment without vodka, even if he has the tools. One drink is a small discount and first tier upgrades, two drinks is a higher discount and all upgrades... and three drinks puts him to sleep for a few hours. He claims it helps him keep his hands steady. May be Drowning His Sorrows over lost friends, too.
  • Grigori the informant from Alpha Protocol. Thorton can even mock him by smashing a bottle over his head and saying he spilled his wodka.

Web Animation

Web Comics

Western Animation

  • When Springfield is a candidate to host the Olympics, The elementary school puts on a performance for the International Olympic Committee - including an ill-fated "patriotic" stand-up act from Bart:

 Bart: So, you're from Russia, huh?

Russian representative: Da!

Bart: You drunk yet?

Russian representative: (sadly) Da.

Real Life

  • Boris Yeltsin. Especially in the later years of his presidency. At one point, while visiting Clinton in DC, Yeltsin turned up in his underwear on Pennsylvania Avenue, trying to hail cabs.
    • At one time, his plane was flying through Ireland and the Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) was on hand to receive him. Yeltsin never made it off the plane, his doctor stating that the President was not feeling well...
    • Referenced at one point in The Simpsons, where the highest possible reading on a breathalyzer's scale is "Boris Yeltsin".
  • Peter the Great.
  • Way back when Russia was looking to implement a state religion, Islam was thrown right out because even then alcohol was too much of a mainstay of life to consider getting rid of it.
  • During the Cold War, both major powers were looking for good Truth Serums to extract information from the enemy. The CIA looked into all kinds of mind-altering substances (including LSD) as part of Project MKULTRA, and were embarrassed by the FBI when all these exotic chemicals failed but the Bureau got actionable intelligence on a mob heist by lacing a captured mafioso's cigarettes with THC. The KGB, on the other hand, decided to just use vodka: agents trying to extract intel would get into a drinking contest with the other guy, and since the Russian (by this trope) would have much higher tolerance, the the other guy would probably start leaking secrets long before the agent.
  • During the latter half of Leonid Brezhnev's tenure as leader of the Soviet Union, alcohol abuse skyrocketed among the Soviet population, to the point where the average life expectancy of the Soviet population took quite a hit.
  • Up until very recently, beer was not classified as alcoholic in Russia, only beverages above 14% (28 proof) were not classified as "foodstuffs".
  • The Primary Chronicle, a Russian historical account written in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, includes the statement, "It is the Russians' joy to drink; we cannot do without it."
  • It's been said that Americans make a distinction between those who drink and those who don't; Russians make a distinction between those who drink vodka and those who don't.
  • It is probably no coincidence that Korskaoff's Syndrome was first described by and named after a Russian neurologist. While not actually caused by alcohol, it is often a side effect of alcoholism as alcohol provides the body with a lot of energy but virtually no nutrients at all and people who consume almost nothing but alcohol suffer from severe damage to the brain and nervous system from lack of vitamin B1. While it can be caused by other forms of malnutrition, this disease is what people are talking about when speaking of drinking your brain to death.
  • Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky was a great Russian composer, and his alchoholism is said to be one of the reasons behind his death.

Notes

  1. which is so bad at this point that it's the lowest of any industrialized nation, though there's a lot more to that than booze
  2. A traditional Ukranian folk dance
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