Vodka

"When it comes to mixed drinks, there's no end to what you can do with vodka," says John Clement, a bartender at Clementine in Manhattan. "I have the recipes for about 1,000 vodka drinks in my head." Vodka is great for cocktails because it has virtually no taste with a smooth finish. Save your higher quality vodka for drinks where the spirit dominates, such as martinis, gimlets or vodka sodas. Mid-level brands work fine in cocktail recipes that have other flavorings, such as white Russians, Bloody Marys, Cosmos, or screwdriver. If you want to start experimenting with vodka on your own, use Food & Wine's guide to find the best brands and drink ideas.

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Grapefruit Vodka Soda

Letting vodka steep with grapefruit segments-you don't want the bitter pith here-gives you a juicy, fresh grapefruit-infused vodka that retains the fruit's vibrant flavor and needs nothing more than club soda and ice to become a delicious, bone-dry cocktail. Orange, tangerine, and Meyer lemon would all be delicious here, too.

Fall in Love With Green Chile Vodka

Swap it in for your next Bloody Mary, try it with a tall pour of soda and a squeeze of lime—or in one of these three cocktails.

11 Essential Vodkas Everyone Should Have in the Liquor Cabinet

For mixing into dirty martinis, splashing with soda, or spiking up any drink you can think of, vodka is a necessary bottle. And it’s key for entertaining; while some drinkers aren’t partial to gin, say, or tequila, virtually no one has a vodka aversion. But which should you get? Here are eleven bottles to know and try.

Boozy Watermelon Slushy

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After last summer’s frosé frenzy, we’re all craving the next big chill. At Treasury in San Francisco, there’s always something icy churning at the bar. “Slushies signal a good time,” says beverage director Carlos Yturria, the brains behind this watermelon-based party starter, spiked with sherry and Aperol.  Slideshow: More Frozen Drink Recipes 
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Barbecue Bloody Mary

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Chris Lilly has been at the helm of Big Bob Gibson’s Bar-B-Q in Decatur, Alabama, for some time now, constantly perfecting and producing quintessential barbecue goodness. I had the chance to try Chris’s barbecue at the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party in 2011, and I can honestly say it has forever changed me. I compare all barbecue I have eaten since against his majestic mountaintop of flavor. Hope you feel the same about his Bloody, featuring beef jus (save the drippings from your next barbecue, or use unsalted beef broth), smoked celery salt, and lotsa smiles and high fives. —Brian BartelsReprinted with permission from The Bloody Mary, copyright 2017 by Brian Bartels. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Photographs copyright 2017 by Eric MedskerSlideshow: More Cocktail Recipes

East Jaffa Mule

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Drinking from an icy copper mug amps up the refreshment of this fig-and-date-inflected take on the Moscow mule. Slideshow: More Refreshing Cocktail Recipes 

Moscow Mule

Traditionally served in a frosty copper mug, the Moscow Mule helped vodka become popular in the US in the 1940s. Previously, one American cocktail book had described vodka as “Russian for ‘horrendous.’” Related: More Vodka Recipes