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January 2, 2009

Who is Osima?

osimaClicking through The Sun's digital photo archives, I came across this picture. It was taken at the Museum of Russian Vodka, located, of course, in the Motherland.

But it was the caption which really intruiged me:

Osima, the legendary inventor of vodka, referred to as "the ghost of the museum".

Curious, I Googled "Osima" and "vodka" but found nothing. Now I'm really stumped.

Who was Osima? And why doesn't he get any recognition online? Did our photographers/archivists get the spelling wrong?

(Sun archive photo)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:23 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Bars & Clubs


оковита-OSIMA might be the anglican spelling of the Ukranian word for Vodka.

I gotta admit, I'm stumped on this one! And after answering the infusion question so well. Hrm...

I've been trying every plausible combination of Cyrillic characters I can think of. And reading the history of vodka in Russian isn't producing any results. Maybe Osima is one of the monks that people credit with vodka's invention. I'll keep working on it.

From Wikipedia,

There is a joke on how people drink vodka in different countries.

Sweden: With water.
Finland: Without water.
Russia: Like water.

The Vodka Museum - History of vodka: (Newark) links to this a post after copying the first part.

Hunting around the web, I found this picture at PR - ehto zhizn (PR - it's life), but with no caption. There's no mention of "Osima" on the Museum's web site, where they say that

"in 1429, foreign visitors brought aqua vitae to Moscow once again; this time it was served as the universal cure. The liquid was appreciated at the court of the young prince Vasily the Second Vasilievitch, who later lost his eyesight in the feud with his relatives and got the nickname of «Dark». As the drink was too strong, it was normally diluted with water. It is likely that the idea of diluting alcohol (that is what aqua vitae actually was) with water was the starting point for manufacturing Russian vodka that was produced from grain, which was abundant in Russia. In the 15th century the monasteries of Russia began producing grain vodka."

They also, of course, refer to Mendeleev, whose doctoral dissertation was called "On Combining Alcohol and Water" and whose findings set the national standard for vodka.

I'm afraid your photographers had their leg pulled. The photo seems to be a simple diorama of early vodka production.

I hate being hoodwinked! Osima was a fraud!


whoever he was, he sounded lika turrurrist.

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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