11 Essential Vodkas Everyone Should Have in the Liquor Cabinet

Zu Zubrowka
Photo: Courtesy of Zubrowka

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.

01 of 11

Tito's Handmade Vodka

Tito's Handmade Vodka
Courtesy of Tito's Handmade Vodka

How, exactly, did Tito's skyrocket from obscurity to ubiquity? The poster child for the American craft spirits movement, Tito's is now, in many parts of the country, the call vodka of choice. And hey, we've got no objections: It's reasonably priced, made in America from 100 percent corn, and distilled in copper pot stills, giving it a bit of weight. ($19 at wine.com)

02 of 11

Grey Goose

Grey Goose
Courtesy of Grey Goose

So popular that its fans often don't bother with the full name. ("I'll have a Goose and soda.") While there are equally tasty vodkas for far less money, the spirit, made in copper stills from a blend of rye, barley, wheat, and corn, is lush and drinkable. ($36 at wine.com)

03 of 11

Sobieski

Sobieski
Marie Brizard Wine & Spirits - Americas

Fan of Belvedere? We'd steer you toward a less expensive, equally tasty Polish vodka: Sobieski. Made from Polish Dankowski rye, it's the best-selling spirit in the vodka-loving nation—silky and smooth on the palate. No big marketing push here; just a fairly priced spirit. ($25 at drizly.com)

04 of 11

Aylesbury Duck

Aylesbury Duck
Courtesy of Aylesbury Duck

The 86 Company creates spirits especially for bartenders, and their Aylesbury Duck has taken off in the mixology community—distilled from Canadian winter wheat, it's clean and bright with hints of grain and spice. Above all else, it's mixable (which is, after all, the whole idea). ($26 at totalwine.com)

05 of 11

Luksusowa

Luksusowa
Courtesy of Luksusowa

It's a common misconception that vodka is made from potatoes. And it can be, though it's more often distilled from grain. The best-value potato vodka brand? That'd be the Polish-made Luksusowa, rich and warming with a hint of sweetness. ($28 at drizly.com)

06 of 11

Ketel One

Ketel One
Courtesy of Ketel One

One of the true vodka heavyweights, Ketel One only dates back to 1983, but it's produced by the Nolet Distillery—a family-owned business in the Netherlands since 1691. Along with Grey Goose, the wheat-based vodka is an absolute bar staple, often called for by name. ($29 at wine.com)

07 of 11

Russian Standard Vodka

Russian Standard Vodka
Courtesy of Russian Standard Vodka

When you think vodka, you think Russia, right? Here's the best-selling premium vodka in the country, distilled from winter rye. Clean, crisp, and easy-drinking. ($32 at totalwine.com)

08 of 11

Stolichnaya

Stolichnaya
Courtesy of Stolichnaya

A classic, made from wheat and rye and then quadruple-distilled. A solid value and very mixable—the preferred vodka of many a bartender. ($27 at wine.com)

09 of 11

Reyka

Reyka
Courtesy of Reyka

When a bottle of vodka gets up to the $50-60 range, odds are you're paying for marketing. Unlike whiskey or Cognac, vodka doesn't go through an expensive, time-intensive aging process; the spirit is intended to be crisp, clean, and easy-drinking. We adore Icelandic-made Reyka, a great value at around $20/bottle, as pure and easy-drinking as they come. ($30 at reservebar.com)

10 of 11

Absolut Elyx

Absolut Elyx
Courtesy of Absolut

Absolut's high-end vodka is like catnip to bartenders. (Their branding doesn't hurt. Ever seen a cocktail served in a copper pineapple? Absolut Elyx is inside, guaranteed.) Made from estate-grown Swedish winter wheat in a 1920s copper still, and bottled at a slightly higher proof than most vodkas (42 percent, rather than 40), it's rich and weighty, smooth enough to drink on its own, and killer in martinis. Or any other way you'd like to mix it. ($47 at wine.com)

11 of 11

ZU Zubrówka Bison Grass Vodka

Zu Zubrowka
Courtesy of Zubrowka

And now, for something completely different. Vodka is, by definition, virtually flavorless. ZU is anything but—the bison grass flavor is complex and grassy, a little spicy, with a strong nose of vanilla. Mix it with apple cider, as they drink it in Poland, or play around with it in cocktails. But whatever you do, don't call it a flavored vodka. ($30 at caskers.com)

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