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Our 5 favorite vodka drinks, ranked

The best vodka drinks, ranked

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When it comes to mixing, there might not be a more versatile spirit than vodka. This is because, even though vodkas have subtle flavors from the ingredients and the production method, it’s largely crafted to be a smooth, neutral grain spirit with as little flavor and aroma as possible.

For those new to the spirit, vodka is a clear spirit made of ethanol and water. The ethanol comes from the fermentation of potatoes, wheat, rye, corn, or other ingredients. After fermentation, the liquid is distilled (usually multiple times to remove impurities) before being filtered through charcoal or other ingredients (volcanic rock, in the case of Reyka).

Cranberry vodka cocktail
Mary / Marys Whole Life

Why vodka works for cocktails?

The multiple distillation and filtering are designed to make the spirit mellow, smooth, and borderline flavorless. This makes it the perfect shade to mix into your favorite cocktails. Its neutral flavor won’t overpower bitters, fruit juices, or any other ingredients you might use.

Vodka bottles
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Our 5 favorite vodka cocktails, ranked

Fans of vodka should be delighted to know that there are myriad vodka-based cocktails just waiting to be discovered. Some of the most popular, classic drinks include vodka like the Vodka Martini, Cosmopolitan, Vodka Tonic, Moscow Mule, Bloody Mary, Seabreeze, Vodka Soda, and more. Keep reading to see our five favorite vodka-based cocktails. As a bonus, we ranked them on overall flavor.

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5.) Cosmopolitan

Similar to the Cape Codder, the Cosmopolitan is a cocktail made with vodka, Cointreau, fresh lime juice, and cranberry juice. Well-known for its tart, fruity flavor and bright red hue, its history is a bit cloudy. One story says that a bartender named Neal Murray invented the drink in the summer of 1975 at a Minneapolis bar. Another origin story is that it was created by a bartender named Toby Cecchini in 1987. Regardless of who created it, this timeless drink is perfect for any time of year, especially in the humid summer months.

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4.) Vodka Martini

There are very few cocktails more well-known than the classic Martini. The original version is made with gin and vermouth and is usually garnished with a lemon twist or an olive. The Vodka Martini swaps out the herbal, botanical, and juniper-centric gin and replaces it with vodka. There are various stories about this drink’s genesis. While it first made an appearance in Jerry Thomas’ Bartender’ Guide in 1862, many believe it was invented by a bartender named Martini di Taggia. He served the drink to John D. Rockefeller in 1911.

Moscow Mule
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3.) Moscow Mule

If you prefer your vodka drinks to have a hint of spicy heat, the classic Moscow Mule is for you. Made with vodka, ginger beer, and lime juice, the drink is often served in a copper mug to keep the drink colder for a longer period. Like many cocktails, there are various stories about its invention. The most common tale takes place in 1941 at a New York City bar. This is where, according to legend, an un-named bartender ordered too much ginger beer and created the drink as a way to use it up. It was a hit among the bar’s guests and remains one of the most popular vodka-based drinks today.

Cold cocktail with lime, lemon, tonic, vodka and ice on vintage background

2.)Vodka Soda

The vodka soda is one of the easiest, most refreshing vodka-based cocktails you’ll ever make. Simply put, it’s one part vodka to 2-3 parts soda water. A lemon or lime squeeze adds extra flavor. This thirst-quenching drink’s history can be traced back to the late 1700s. This was when Schweppes first began selling soda water. Upper-class Swiss and English men and women enjoyed mixing gin, vodka, and other spirits with effervescent water to create a refreshing, boozy, summery drink.

Bloody Mary
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1.) Bloody Mary

There’s a reason vodka is the base for a Bloody Mary. Since it doesn’t add any other flavors, the tomato juice, spices, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish, lemon juice, and any other ingredients are allowed to shine. A popular brunch and breakfast cocktail, this savory, salty, spicy drink has many stories about its creation. A common belief is that the drink was created by a bartender named Fernand “Pete” Petiot at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris back in 1921.

Alcohol bottles
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Picking the right vodka for you

Even though the vodka is created to simply be the alcohol addition to your favorite cocktail, with no discernable flavor, you shouldn’t grab the first bottle you see on the shelf. While you don’t need to buy a high-end, premium expression, you definitely shouldn’t head towards the bottom shelf. You’ll regret it when your cocktail has unnecessarily harsh heat. A middle-of-the-road bottle of vodka works well for mixing.

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Christopher Osburn
Christopher Osburn is a food and drinks writer located in the Finger Lakes Region of New York. He's been writing professional
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