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The 10 classic vodka cocktails you need to know how to make

A classic vodka cocktail is an easy thing to make at home. Here are 10 of the best recipes

Vodka may never wear the royal crown when it comes to celebrated spirits. But that’s just fine, as the relatively neutral distillate tends to do better as a mixer than a standalone drink. Granted, there are some remarkable top-shelf vodkas out there, but by and large this spirit wants to jump in the glass with some other ingredients and play around.

Want some more reasons to appreciate vodka? Let’s start with price point, as it tends to be one of the most inexpensive spirits out there. Next, let’s chat up its versatility. That mild flavor can do well with just about anything (yup, even a good vodka pasta sauce). Lastly, it’s a fun drink with lots of history and folklore. This is the stuff of ice bars, caviar chasers, and, in some cases, putting potatoes to work.

See, vodka drinks are fun and deserving of your affection. So cheers to vodka and read on for ten classic cocktail recipes you can make at home with ease.

Bloody Mary

bloody mary cocktail lime

A good Bloody Mary can set your day off right. The complete breakfast of cocktails, it’s complex and engineered around vodka’s incredible ability to tie flavors neatly together.


  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 5 ounces tomato juice
  • 5 teaspoons prepared horseradish
  • 3 dashes hot sauce, such as Frank’s Red Hot
  • 2-3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 lime wedges
  • Lemon wedge
  • Celery salt
  • Black pepper
  • Celery stalk for garnish


  1. In a shaker, squeeze lemon and one lime wedge over ice.
  2. Add the other ingredients and shake well.
  3. Pour over ice in a tall glass and garnish with a celery stalk and a lime wedge.
  4. For extra flavor, float a few extra dashes of hot sauce on top.

Read more: Bloody Mary Recipes

Vodka Martini

Cocktail (or Martini) Glass

They don’t come more classic than the martini. While there are countless versions, the most iconic is vodka-centric, like the one below. We suggest a great sipping vodka, such as OYO from Middle West Spirits.


  • 3 ounces vodka
  • 1 ounce dry vermouth
  • Lemon peel


  1. Stir together with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
  2. Garnish with a lemon twist.
  3. To make it dirty, add a splash of olive brine and garnish with a green olive.

Read more: How To Make Vodka Martinis

ScrewdriverScrewdriver Cocktail

Orange and vodka go together like Daniel Day-Lewis and Oscar nominations. This age-old recipe blends the two perfectly in a summer-ready cocktail. If you like the interplay of sweet and salty, add more of the latter (and play around with some tasty specialty salts for best results).


  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 5 ounces orange juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ounce club soda


  1. Mix all ingredients in a cocktail glass and give it a slight stir.
  2. Garnish with an orange wedge.

Moscow Mule

moscow mule cocktail lime mint copper mug

Is there a more refreshing cocktail than the Moscow Mule? Probably not. It’s a summer-beater, thanks to the perfect balance of spice, sweet, and palate-cleaning, and it even comes in a cold-to-the-touch copper mug (if you don’t have one, get one).


  • 5 ounces vodka
  • 4 ounces ginger beer
  • 1/4 ounce lime juice
  • 1 lime wheel


  1. Add crushed ice to a copper mug, followed by vodka, ginger beer, and lime juice.
  2. Stir and garnish with a lime wheel.

Note: If you want a Moscow Mule on steroids, check out the Mega Mule.

Vodka Gimlet

gimlet cocktail coupe glass

Sometimes, simple is best. The addition of lime subtly alters the hue of this lovely cocktail, making it look and taste like key lime pie crust. Be warned, these go down easy so remember to pace yourself.


  • Ice


  1. Shake and strain into a martini, coupe, or old-fashioned glass.

Read more: Vodka Gimlet Recipes

White Russian

white russian cocktail
Dan Baker/The Manual

Get your Lebowski on with the White Russian, a classic coffee cocktail that’s at once an upper and downer. We like them after a meal as a boozy dessert, but the nature of this drink makes it agreeable any time of day.


  • 5 parts vodka
  • 2 parts coffee liqueur
  • 3 parts cream


  1. In an Old Fashioned glass, pour vodka and coffee liqueur over a large cube or ball of ice.
  2. Float cream on top and stir slowly.


martini glass cosmopolitan cocktail
Glowimages/Getty Images

There was a time a few decades ago that wrote the Cosmo off as a drink for those who don’t really like drinks. Not the case, especially if you use fresh ingredients and a quality spirit. If you like the fruity kick, experiment a bit with juices like pomegranate or passion fruit.


  • 1 1/2 ounces vodka
  • 1/2 ounce cranberry juice
  • 1/4 ounce lime juice
  • 1/4 ounce simple syrup
  • Lime peel or lime wedge, for garnish


  1. Shake together with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
  2. Garnish with a lime peel.

Black Russian

Black Russian Cocktail

We like to think of the Black Russian as the black coffee version of its sibling cocktail, above. Spared the cream, it offers a little more bitterness and can be made all the more interesting with a float of something like Fernet.



  1. Combine vodka and coffee liqueur in an old-fashioned glass.
  2. Add ice and stir well.

Long Island Iced Tea

long island iced tea
Sunny Forest/Shutterstock

While the canned RTD cocktail arena is turning out more of this classic cocktail, we still prefer mixing it up ourselves. With so many spirits at play, it’s best to get the ratios right, and tinkering at home will allow that. Once again, it’s the vodka that plays the role of hero and binds all of the flavors together expertly.



  1. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice.
  2. Pour the vodka, gin, rum, tequila, Triple Sec, and lemon juice into the shaker.
  3. Cover and shake vigorously to combine and chill.
  4. Pour the mixture, ice and all, into two glasses, and top off with the cola.
  5. Garnish with lemon or lime wedges.

Sex on the Beach

Sex on the Beach Cocktail
Flickr/Benjamin Nussbaum

Another drink once made a villain for its sweet, tourist-friendly demeanor, a Sex on the Beach can be something special. Keep fresh with just-squeezed juice, and, if the addition of the schnapps is too cloying, balance it out with a pinch of salt or some club soda.


  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 1 ounce peach schnapps
  • 2 oranges, juiced, plus 2 slices to garnish
  • 2 ounces cranberry juice
  • Ice


  1. Fill two tall glasses with ice cubes.
  2. Pour the vodka, peach schnapps, and fruit juices into a large jug and stir.
  3. Divide the mixture between the two glasses and stir gently to combine.

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Mark Stock
Mark Stock is a writer from Portland, Oregon. He fell into wine during the Recession and has been fixated on the stuff since…
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