15 Vodka Cocktails You Need to Try

Vodka-Rose Punch
Photo: © John Kernick

Vodka has been America's most popular spirit since 1976 for a reason: It's incredibly versatile. Clear, colorless, odorless, and (relatively) flavorless, vodka pairs well with just about any flavor profile you can think of, making it an essential bottle to have on hand if you're entertaining at home. That neutrality also means it also takes well to infusions with ingredients like citrus fruits, herbs, and even jalapeño peppers. We've collected our favorite vodka cocktails here, from bartenders and chefs around the country. Some, like the Vodka Gimlet, are easy to make, requiring only vodka and lime cordial. Others, like the East Jaffa Mule, are perfect for showing off your mixology skills. But there's something for almost everyone here, from Martinis to Bloody Marys to Mules. Stock up your cabinet with your favorite vodka and start mixing.

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Blood Orange Screwdrivers

Blood Orange Screwdrivers

Tired of mimosas? May we recommend this elegant update on the screwdriver? This crowd-pleasing brunch drink is incredibly easy to make, using just vodka, blood orange juice, and Aperol. The Aperol adds a pleasing bitterness and a boost of extra-vibrant color to the brunch classic. This recipe serves 8, making it ideal for a party, but it can easily be scaled for fewer people.

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Grapefruit Vodka Soda

Grapefruit Vodka Soda cocktail
Photo by Adam Friedlander / Food Styling by Pearl Jones

Homemade grapefruit vodka, made by steeping Ruby Red grapefruit segments in vodka overnight, gives this refreshing vodka cocktail its delicious bright flavor. Once the vodka is infused, simply serve it over ice, topped off with club soda and a slice of grapefruit for a delicious, elegant, bone-dry cocktail. You can use the grapefruit vodka in other cocktail recipes, too—swap it in for plain vodka in these Blood Orange Screwdrivers for some extra-citrusy brunch sippers.

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Moscow Mule

Moscow Mule
Getty Images

A cool, refreshing vodka and ginger beer concoction served over ice and garnished with a wheel of lime, this popular vodka cocktail is synonymous with summer. Moscow Mules are traditionally served in copper mugs, which is how the cocktail was first presented when it was invented in the 1940s; you can order your own copper mugs here. Or feel free to skip the mugs—a Moscow Mule is just as tasty sipped out of a Collins glass.

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East Jaffa Mule

East Jaffa Mule
© Abby Hocking

In this twist on a Moscow Mule from Tel Aviv, fig eau de vie, grapefruit juice, homemade ginger syrup, lime juice and date syrup add rich sweetness to the classic vodka cocktail. Bartender Yotam Shilo, who shared this recipe, likes to finish it with freshly grated nutmeg, giving the drink a cozy, autumnal aspect. The ginger syrup is easy to make by simmering sugar, water, and sliced fresh ginger together and stirring until the sugar dissolves; any extra can be used in other cocktails.

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Secondhand News

Secondhand News
© Lucas Allen

Garnished with apple slices and a thyme sprig, this Alpine-inspired drink is one of our favorite vodka cocktails for the fall and winter months. Sherry and Génépy des Alpes, an herbal liqueur made from the same rare Alpine plant as Chartreuse, add heft to the drink, and orgeat lends a sweet almond note.

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Vodka-Rose Punch

Vodka-Rose Punch
© John Kernick

This pink-hued cocktail was created by Padma Lakshmi in homage to the rose syrup-spiked milk her grandmother gave her when she was a child in India. Mint and club soda make this drink especially refreshing. Use pesticide-free rose petals to for the garnish.

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Tarragon-Mint Vodka

Tarragon-Mint Vodka Recipe
Victor Protasio

One of our favorite qualities of vodka is that it's a blank slate, ready to pick up other flavors from fruit, herbs, or spices. Infused vodkas are incredibly easy to make, and come together in as little as a few hours. This beautiful tarragon-infused vodka boasts a pale golden hue and a bittersweet anise taste.

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Suburban Anxiety

Suburban Anxiety
© David Malosh

Lavender syrup, vodka, and lemon juice are topped with sparkling rosé and garnished with a lavender sprig in this bubbly, boozy riff on lavender lemonade from Lindsay Ferdinand of Common Quarter in Atlanta. "It's deliciously different with the hint of lavender," she says. Ferdinand created this drink for a bridal shower, but it's a beautiful option for any special occasion.

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Bloody Mary

Bloody Mary
© Lucas Allen

A savory concoction of tomato juice and vodka, the Bloody Mary is a classic vodka cocktail that's fun to riff on in all kinds of ways. Try seasoning Bloody Marys with savory ingredients like balsamic vinegar or even beef drippings. Or get creative with your garnishes and embellish them with anything from skewers of salami to oysters or even mini cheeseburgers. This streamlined version from mixologist Craig Schoettler sticks closely to the classic recipe, with chilled tomato juice, vodka, fresh lemon juice, Worcestershire and Tabasco sauce, and a celery stalk and lemon wedge for the garnish.

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Vodka Micheladas

Vodka Micheladas
© Cedric Angeles

Micheladas are a light Mexican cocktail traditionally made with beer, lime juice, and hot sauce. For her take on the drink, cookbook author Georgia Pellegrini uses an easy-to-make jalapeño-and-citrus-infused vodka instead of beer to make fiery Vodka Micheladas, noting, "Good things are meant to evolve." For the fizzy factor, she tops the infused vodka with seltzer water. A garnish of bacon strips makes it truly extra.

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Of Mountains and Valleys

Of Mountains and Valleys
© Lucas Allen

Vodka's neutral flavor makes it a unifying spirit in complex cocktails, one that pulls other ingredients into a cohesive whole. "Between spirits, liqueurs, citrus and syrup, a cocktail can get really disjointed," notes hospitality professional Jacyara de Oliveira. She uses vodka to focus this elegant cocktail, which includes Velvet Falernum (a liqueur spiced with clove, lime, ginger and almond), scotch, lemon juice, and honey syrup.

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Caffè Romano Martini

Caffe Romano Martini
© Tina Rupp

Spirits professional Philip Duff was inspired by the espresso romano (a shot of espresso served with a strip of lemon peel) when he came up with this delicious espresso martini. Instead of the traditional lemon zest, Duff uses elderflower liqueur and lemon verbena to add lovely citrusy and floral notes to the cocktail. A combination of chilled espresso and coffee liqueur meld with the vodka to make a pleasingly bitter aperitif.

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Barbecue Bloody Mary

Barbecue Bloody Mary
Eric Medsker

Award-winning barbecue chef Chris Lilly inspired cocktail expert Brian Bartels to create this Barbecue Bloody Mary, made extra savory with the addition of beef drippings (or beef broth, if that's what you have on hand). A lemon and celery salt rim keeps the flavors bright.

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Pear of Desire

Pear of Desire
© Wendell T. Webber

Citrus vodka is the backbone of this sweet, sparkling vodka cocktail, which combines with Licor 43 (a citrus-and-vanilla-flavored liqueur), pear nectar, cream soda, and ginger ale. Veteran bartender Todd Thrasher invented the Pear of Desire at Restaurant Eve in Alexandria, Virginia, serving it with a striking garnish of thinly sliced fresh pear.

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Classic Vodka Gimlet

Classic Vodka Gimlet
Abby Hocking

The defining feature of a classic gimlet is Rose's Lime Juice, a sweet lime juice cordial created in 1867 by Lauchlan Rose. For a time, it was given to members of the British Royal Navy to prevent scurvy; the first gimlet was supposedly mixed up by an enterprising sailor. The original gimlet was made with gin, but many fans prefer this version, made with just vodka and Rose's Lime Juice. (Prefer a version with fresh lime juice? Try this Rosemary Gimlet)

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