Skip to main content

The Best Flavored Vodka Made in America of 2018

st george green chile vodka best flavored vodkas 2018
Dan Baker/The Manual

The Manual Spirit Awards recognize the people making the best damn booze in America. Across nine categories — Bourbon, Rye, Single Malt American Whiskey, Unaged Rum, Aged Rum, Vodka, Flavored Vodka, Gin, and Brandy — we blind-tasted multiple products from around the country to determine our champions. Each of the winning bottles was judged on appearance, aroma, palate, finish, and how well the product represented the category as a whole. Our focus on smaller craft distillers in the U.S. allowed us to highlight spirits that, we hoped, our readers either have not heard of or had the opportunity to try yet.

Best Flavored Vodka

St. George Spirits Green Chile Vodka

As the category name suggests, flavored vodka is a spirit that is, at first, colorless, odorless, tasteless, and bottled at no less than 60 proof, but has had some sort of flavoring added (as well as sugar, in some cases). Since any natural component can be included, liquor store shelves hold everything from typical flavors such as fruits or vegetables to cotton candy, Swedish fish, and more.

Dan Baker/The Manual

This category was difficult because each vodka expressed such different flavors. In order to pick a winner, we chose based on what we felt came the closest to expressing the truest nature of the ingredients featured. In the case of the St. George Spirits Green Chile Vodka, a blend of hot and sweet peppers brings out incredibly vibrant aromas and flavors without being overwhelming.

St. George Spirits Green Chile Vodka is made with five different types of peppers (jalapeño, Serrano, habanero, and red and yellow bell peppers), as well as lime and cilantro to create a full-bodied, spicy liquor. It is available in most states.

Tasting Notes

  • Appearance: St. George Green Chile Vodka is clear with a greenish tint.
  • Nose: You know immediately what you are getting with this vodka. Fresh jalapeños and spice greet you before you get to the citrusy lime and bright, garden-y cilantro notes.
  • Palate: Alive is probably the best way to describe the palate. This vodka reveals itself over multiple sips, with the various peppers — jalapeño, serrano, habanero, bell — all seeming to come to the surface at one time or another. The heat from the peppers is present, but not overpowering, playing nicely against the heat of the alcohol. Throughout, you get an undercurrent of the citrus and cilantro that you originally got on the palate.
  • Finish: Clean and neat, the medium-short finish leaves you with vegetal flavors and heat on your tongue.

About the Distillery

St. George Spirits, one of the pioneers of craft distilling in America, was founded in 1982 by a German man named Jörg Rupf who visited Alameda, California, and found the local produce to be amazing, but the local beverages less so. Rupf came from a family of distillers and set out to make eau de vie (a clear fruit brandy) using fruit from the Bay Area. Although eau de vie was a niche product in America, Rupf inspired a new generation of distillers who would build the craft movement. Rupf and St. George’s current master distiller, Lance Winters, expanded the company’s product line and found huge success with the Hangar One vodka brand, which was eventually sold. After that, St. George Spirits had the financial freedom to experiment, creating a wild array of spirits. In addition to various vodkas, eau de vie (which St. George now calls “fruit brandies”), the distillery also makes gins, single malt whiskey, and even absinthe, among others. St. George’s current vodka lineup includes All Purpose (a mellow spirit made with pears), California Citrus (infused with Valencia oranges, Seville oranges, and bergamot), and Green Chile.

How to Enjoy It In a Cocktail

Bull Shot

With a spicy flavor profile, there are only so many classic cocktails that Green Chile Vodka would work in. We decided to go with the Bull Shot, as this is The Manual, and what is more Manual-esque than a cocktail that involves a meat-based product? Salty, beefy, spicy, the Bull Shot is like a meal in a glass. Think of it like a Bloody Mary without the tomato (which is what it was originally meant to be).

Glass: Collins glass
Tools: Stirring spoon

  • 1 oz St. George Green Chile Vodka
  • .5 oz vodka
  • 4 oz beef bouillon
  • .25 oz lemon juice
  • 1 dash Tabasco sauce
  • 1-3 Jalapeño slices, seeds removed

Method: Pour ingredients into Collins glass and stir well. Add ice. Make a cut in jalapeño slices and slide onto the rim of the glass to garnish.

Best Flavored Vodka Runners-Up

Hangar One Makrut Lime Vodka Prairie Organic Cucumber Flavored Vodka
Hangar One Prairie Organic Spirits
Alameda, California Minneapolis, Minnesota
If you need a boost of crisp citrus flavor in a cocktail, you can’t go wrong with Hangar One’s Makrut Lime, a great flavored vodka out of California. It makes for a simple, yet flavorful, vodka and soda. Minnesota’s Prairie Organic uses a corn base and English cucumbers for a fresh, cool flavor. The result is a soft vodka that easily imparts pleasant cucumber flavors without being overwhelming.


Article by Sam Slaughter

Additional reporting by Will Nicol

Copy editing by Nicole Raney

Photography by Dan Baker

Video by Dan Baker and Riley Young

Art direction and page layout by Genevieve Poblano

Creative team: Will Hawkins, Hanif Jackson, and Chris DeGraw

Shot on location at Grand Army Tavern in Portland, Oregon

Editors' Recommendations

Sam Slaughter
Sam Slaughter was the Food and Drink Editor for The Manual. Born and raised in New Jersey, he’s called the South home for…
The best whiskey options to make your Manhattan drink recipe even better
Rye whiskey is classic, but not the only option

The Manhattan is one of the most well-known classic cocktails ever created. Like many famous mixed drinks, its history is a bit mysterious. One version of the story says that the drink was made at New York City’s Manhattan Club in the 1870s by a bartender named Iain Marshall. There is a mention of the drink in the later 1800s in a book written by bartender Wiliam F. Mulhall. Regardless of who created it, this whiskey-driven cocktail has stood the test of time.

Whiskey matters
This iconic drink is similar to the Old Fashioned, except instead of whiskey, sugar, water, and Angostura bitters, the Manhattan is made with whiskey, Angostura bitters, and sweet vermouth. While the other ingredients are important, the whisky is the key. The bitters add a bit of spice to the mix, and the vermouth adds a fruity sweetness, but the big, bold flavor is the whisky. The other ingredients are only there so the whiskey can shine through.

Read more
This is why your bourbon tastes sweet even though there’s no added sugar
Why does bourbon taste sweet?
Whiskey glass

There’s a reason America’s “native spirit” is so popular. Bourbon is well-known for its mellow, easy-drinking, sweet flavor. For those new to the truly American whiskey, to be considered a bourbon, all distillers must follow a few rules and regulations.

To get the title of bourbon whiskey, the spirit must be made from a mash bill of at least 51% corn; it must be aged in new, charred oak barrels, it must be made in the US (but not just Kentucky, regardless of what a bourbon purist might tell you), distilled to a maximum of 160-proof, barreled at a maximum of 125-proof, and bottled at a minimum of 80-proof.

Read more
Intuitive eating is different from any other diet: 5 tips you need to know to succeed
Intuitive eating: Solutions to common obstacles
Friends sharing a meal in a restaurant

Intuitive eating is not just another fad diet; it's a whole new way of approaching food and your relationship with it. Instead of relying on external rules and restrictions, intuitive eating empowers you to listen to your body's inner wisdom and trust its cues for hunger, fullness, and satisfaction. 

Instead of adhering to diet mentalities that promote quick weight loss, it is about embracing self-compassion and honoring your body.

Read more