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The BBC's Steve Rosenberg in Moscow
"Russians have developed the first ever talking vodka bottle top."
 real 56k

Listen to the vodka bottle top here
The bottle top says 'cheers'
 real 28k

Thursday, 15 March, 2001, 14:47 GMT
Bottle banters with Russian boozers
Vodka is a national institution in Russia
Russians drink more than a billion litres of vodka a year

By Steven Rosenberg in Moscow

Russians have a saying - drinking is bad for you, but not drinking is much worse!

And if you don't believe me - listen to this. The Russians have developed the world's first ever talking vodka bottle top.

The vodka genie bottle top
Talk is cheap: The vodka genie looks like any other bottle top

The voice belongs to the vodka genie who recites a whole string of popular Russian toasts and encourages you to have a tipple.

And each time you take the top off the bottle, the vodka genie's speech grows more and more slurred.

The talking bottle top was developed by a team of scientists at a Moscow workshop. It's packed with the very latest microchip technology.

"It's very easy, you just open the bottle, you hear the genie laughing, it gives you some time to pour your glasses, then it is time to the toast and the genie says 'Friends let's drink for all of us!" explains inventor Dmitry Zhurin.

Missing the point

If scientists here have their way, then very soon everything in your home could be talking back to you, armchairs, tables, even the kitchen sink.

It's all part of a groundbreaking scheme designed to give each and every object a little part of the Russian soul - even the country's national drink.

Moscovite enjoying listening to the bottle top
The vodka, and the bottle top's encouragement has the desired effect
Mind you, with more than a billion litres of vodka consumed each year in Russia, you wouldn't think there was a need for a talking bottle top to convince people to drink it.

But most of the Russians we spoke to were quite taken with the idea - they'd certainly seen nothing like it ever before. Some, though, missed the point entirely.

When the vodka's flowing freely - it's surprising how quickly you can get through a bottle - the chances are you won't be paying much attention to what it's saying!

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