The national drink of Ukraine is horilka, an alcoholic beverage that is often served with chili pepper. The name means "burning water."
Horilka in Ukrainian or Vodka in Russian is a typically colourless liquor, usually distilled from fermented grain. It is commonly thought that the term is taken from the Slavic word "voda" (woda) for "water." In Ukrainian "vodka" is "horilka" (with the words root meaning being "to burn").
Except for insignificant amounts of flavourings, horilka consists of water and alcohol (ethanol). Horilka usually has an alcohol content ranging from 35 to 60 percent by volume. The classic Ukrainian or Russian horilka / vodka is 40 percent (80 degrees proof), the number being attributed to the famous Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev. According to the Vodka Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, Mendeleev thought the perfect percentage to be 38, but since spirits in his time were taxed on their strength the percentage was rounded up to 40 to simplify the tax computation. Nowadays you can also find 38 percent horilka, but is usually called "Light".
Apart from the alcoholic content, horilka / vodka may be classified into two main groups: clear horilka and flavoured horilka. Flavourings often include red pepper, ginger, various fruit flavours, vanilla, chocolate (unsweetened), and cinnamon. Ukrainians produce commercial horilka also that includes St John's Wort (a plant).The Poles and Belarusians add the leaves of the local bison grass to produce ?ubrówka or Zubrovka vodka, which has a slightly sweet flavour and a light amber colour. In Ukraine and Russia, vodka flavoured with honey and pepper (Pertsovka, in Russian, Pertsivka, in Ukrainian) is also very popular.