The Ultimate Guide to Vodka
While tequila is growing in popularity, vodka persists as America's favorite spirit. It draws in $7.3 billion in annual revenue, a figure that's about $2 billion higher than tequila's profits. Since this has been a constant since the 1970s, it's clear that the US loves drinking this versatile beverage.
If you're an alcohol enthusiast looking to learn more about vodka drinks, you likely are wondering about the types of vodka and how you can create interesting new flavors. Read this guide to vodka to answer all of your most pressing questions and better understand this type of fine liquor.
A Basic Guide to Vodka
If you're a vodka beginner, you might be surprised by how strong it is. It has a pretty neutral flavor, but it burns going down because of its high alcohol content. Its base is generally either grain or potatoes in the same way that grapes are the base of wine.
The grain or potato is fermented and distilled several times. People choose different numbers of times to distill the vodka, but it always initially should be at least 95% alcohol by volume (ABV).
At this point, the person making the alcohol will dilute it with water. At this point, the mixture is filtered through active charcoal to purify it and strengthen the flavor.
Flavored vodkas are then given flavor enhancements. In most cases, artificial flavors and extracts are added to the finished product. It's then bottled up and sold by various brands.
The Requirements of Vodka
In the 1890s, experts began to pass requirements that a drink must meet to be considered vodka. To be classified as vodka, the end product must have a 40% ABV.
In other nations, these requirements differ. The EU only requires a 37.5% ABV. This means that something that classifies as vodka in Europe may not qualify in the US.
Still, for consumer purposes, these technicalities generally don't matter. Vodka's just vodka.
The History of Vodka
There's a reason that vodka is strongly associated with Russia today: it was likely invented there. There's documented evidence that vodka was produced in Russia at the end of the 9th century. At this point, it was only distilled once, though producers would soon learn that the alcohol quality increased with more distillation.
Poland also claims to have originated vodka, though the historical evidence still points toward Russia. It seems that Polish distillers made a wine-adjacent beverage that was more like brandy than vodka.
However, despite these early beginnings, vodka didn't find its way to the US until the 20th century. World War I brought foreign-made vodka to North America, and western experts began to make it themselves during World War II.
What Types of Vodka Are Available?
We've talked about how most vodka is made from grain, but there are actually three types of vodka. These are grain, potato, and fruit. Each of these beverages has its own unique flavor, strength, and use.
Grain vodka is a standard type of vodka because of how smooth it is. It's generally made from wheat, rye, and barley. These common staples mean that grain vodka is inexpensive and easily accessible across the US.
Making potato vodka is a slightly more high-effort process than creating grain vodka. Potatoes must be mashed before they're distilled. Potatoes are also a very common ingredient, so it's easy to find this vodka mixed into other drinks.
While it's slightly less smooth than grain vodka, potato vodka doesn't have the strong alcoholic taste that alternatives do. This means that the spirit has a crisp and unmasked flavor. It's the perfect ingredient for vodka-based cocktails.
Fruit vodkas are made using grain or potatoes, but they also use various types of fruit to add flavor. The grain type changes the flavor profile slightly (e.g. potato vodkas are subtly sweet while rye vodkas are earthy).
However, fruit vodka mainly tastes like the type of fruit that it is distilled with. Apples, cranberries, pears, and cherries are common.
Despite there only being three core types of vodka, it's a drink that comes in tons of different flavors. Simple standard vodka is a classic that never goes out of style, especially when it's of high quality. However, it's far from the only available option.
Fruit vodkas range from sweet to tart, but most of them have a fairly natural flavor. However, you can also get them with additional sugary syrup or artificial fruit accents. This makes them a little bit sweeter so that you can use them to make frothy fruit cocktails.
Many drinks are blended with other fruit flavors as well. Smirnoff makes a great watermelon vodka while Ciroc's peach vodka is a great choice. Apricot flavoring also adds a unique twist to a classic beverage.
Some sweet vodkas are also made from non-fruity flavors. Chocolate-infused drinks are fairly popular, as are more nuanced drinks like Pinnacle Salted Caramel French vodka. Cotton Candy French vodka is also available from Pinnacle if you're looking for something unique.
Beyond the Sweet
Sour vodkas also are popular among those looking to make lemon-lime drinks. Deep Eddy lemon vodka is a top choice for those looking to balance the intensity of vodka shots with some acidic fruit. You also might enjoy options like Absolut Lime Swedish grain vodka for a sour surprise.
Spicy vodkas are also a good choice for many people, especially those who already enjoy the taste of rye vodka). Smirnoff has a great spicy tamarind option for those who want to add a little kick to any drink. Those who like to blend the sweet with the spicy also may enjoy Svedka's grapefruit and jalapeno-flavored vodka.
Common Vodka-Based Drinks
Because of its strength, vodka is a popular choice for mixed drinks. It has no strong color or smell, which means that it blends well with different fruits and other beverages.
Martinis are THE classic vodka drink. They're one of the most popular drinks on any bar's cocktail menu. This makes sense when you consider how simple and elegant a vodka martini is.
All you need to do to make your own is grab some vodka and dry vermouth. Mix it up with some bitters and a garnish like a lemon or lime peel. In the end, you'll wind up with a true vodka martini similar to a gin one (but with a vodka base).
If you're looking to put a fresh spin on this drink, you can also add some fruit juice. A little bit of plum, strawberry, cherry, or pomegranate will do the trick nicely.
Don't add too much- you don't want an overpowering flavor. But a little can give this classically easy drink a lot of pizzaz.
Light Fruit Cosmopolitans
Cosmopolitans are the ideal drink for those who like light and fruity flavors. Grab a cup of vodka, 1/4 cup triple sec, 1/3 cup of fruit juice, and 2-4 tablespoons of fresh lime juice. The fruit juice can be anything you want it to be, but cranberry or orange is traditional.
Dump all of the ingredients in a pitcher, stir, and check the taste. Refrigerate the mixture once you're satisfied to chill it. After a few hours, the pitcher will be all ready for drinking.
You'll have made enough for 4 people, so grab 4 glasses, divvy it up, and call some friends over. Make it look great with a little umbrella or lime-peel twist.
Screwdrivers probably bring you back to your college days when you were chugging out of Solo cups. But college students are smart, and they actually had it right when they started mixing these drinks.
If you're having some friends over and want a simple drink, grab some classic unflavored vodka and your favorite orange juice. If you want to feel a little more grown-up, you can also squeeze your own fresh OJ. Add some sugar to sweeten it up or a drop of lemon juice if sour's your style.
Pour out a tumbler of orange juice and add 1.5 ounces of vodka. Add ice, put the lid on, and shake it up. This gives it an even flavor and temperature.
It's that easy!
Another drink that college students love? Vodka cranberry. This is called a "Cape Codder" by those looking to seem more sophisticated, and there are ways to put an adult spin on the drink.
Mix a drink that's 1 part vodka and 3 parts cranberry juice. Make sure that it's thoroughly mixed together before chilling it in the fridge. Pour some out whenever you want it.
You can then add some fresh cranberries to the top of your glass for added flavor and texture. A lime wedge will also go a long way as a garnish. You can even add a little bit of lime juice to make that flavor more prominent.
A Madras is a sort of mix between a screwdriver and a Cape Codder. You mix a drink that contains as much vodka as you need with orange and cranberry juices. You can add juice based on how strong you want the fruity flavor to be.
You can also make this drink even more intricate with a third fruit. Raspberry is also a good choice, as is cucumber juice for those who want to lean into chill summer vibes.
If you don't want something that tastes like citrus, a Bloody Mary might be the right vodka drink for you. This drink's a little harder to make than others (and is a complete 180 from the simplicity of a screwdriver). However, it's well worth the effort since it's a classy morning or brunch drink.
Grab 2 ounces of vodka and 4 ounces of tomato juice for the base of your cocktail. Add some celery salt, 2 dashes of Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce, and 2 teaspoons of grated horseradish. Mix it all up and add a pinch of black pepper and another pinch of paprika.
Make sure that you put it all in a tumbler with some ice and shake it up thoroughly. You want a well-mixed drink!
If you'll be hanging out with some friends or having an at-home date, you'll also want to make your drink look nice. Add a celery stick or create a skewer covered with vegetable garnishes. Green olives, tomatoes, parsley, and smaller bits of cut-up celery work well.
Stick a lemon or lime wedge on the side of your cup, and voila! Perfection.
How to Get the Highest-Quality Vodka
There are so many varieties of vodka that choosing between them can be a huge challenge. This is especially true when you walk into a liquor store and see hundreds of bottles lining the shelves. Luckily, you can now order vodka online from reputable vendors and access all the best brands and beverages.
All you need to do is add your desired vodka to your card and check out. Vodka will be shipped directly to your doorstep- you don't even need to set a foot outside! It comes via UPS and you can see a shipping estimate before you place your order.
Once your Liquorama shows up, you'll need to sign for the packages. They all require adult (21+) signatures for drop-off because of strict state regulations. This should happen 1-3 days after your order is processed, so stay on the lookout for your order.
Order Top-Notch Fine Liquor Today
While there are tons of awesome liquor types that you can choose from, vodka is America's favorite classic for a reason. It's simple, comes in a ton of different flavors, and can be mixed into hundreds of different beverages. Now that you have read a comprehensive guide to vodka, it's time to begin shopping for the best liquor options for 2022.
Liquorama is committed to helping you find the best vodka on the market so that you can start taking shots and mixing drinks. Contact us to learn more about our products and promotions so that you can enjoy a wild night in.