Vodka

Vodka serves as an excellent base in cocktails thanks to its clear, neutral properties. It’s most often made from potato or grain and undergoes a meticulous distillation process, resulting in a smooth, even spirit.
4 shot glasses being filled with ice cubes and chilled vodka on a black stone plate placed on a black table in front of a black background.

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Vodka Guide – What to Know Before You Shop Vodka Online

Vodka is a popular drink that lots of people enjoy! It’s a clear drink that can be mixed with different things to make tasty cocktails. You can find many different vodka brands in shops, and each bottle is special in its own way.

Whether you like to mix your vodka with other flavors or like it just the way it is, you can find a bottle you like. And guess what? You don’t have to spend a lot of money to buy a good bottle of vodka!

What is Vodka?

Vodka is a clear distilled alcoholic beverage. It’s made from water and ethanol and is typically distilled from fermented grains or potatoes.

A chilled vodka bottle with condensation and three shot glasses surrounded by ice cubes on a steamy surface with a dark background.

Different types of vodka

Vodka can be categorized based on factors such as flavor, ingredients, or country of origin.

  1. By Ingredient:
    • Grain Vodka: Made from grains like wheat, rye, or corn. It tends to be smooth.
    • Potato Vodka: Made from potatoes. Typically has a richer texture.
    • Fruit Vodka: Made from fruits like grapes or apples. It often has a lighter taste.
    • Sugar Vodka: Made from fermented sugar.
  1. By Flavor:
    • Unflavored Vodka: Has no added flavorings.
    • Flavored Vodka: Infused with flavors like fruits, herbs, or spices.
  1. By Country of Origin:
    • Russian Vodka: Typically smooth and pure.
    • Polish Vodka: Known for high-quality ingredients and purity.
    • Swedish Vodka: Often distilled multiple times for purity.
  1. By Purity:
    • Standard: Regular vodka with no special filtering.
    • Premium: High-quality ingredients, often distilled more times.
    • Super-Premium: Extremely pure and often comes with a higher price tag.
  1. Craft Vodka:
    • Small Batch Vodka: Produced in smaller quantities and often focuses on quality and uniqueness.
  1. Infused Vodka:
    • Herbal Vodka: Infused with herbs like basil or rosemary.
    • Spiced Vodka: Infused with spices like pepper or cinnamon.
    • Citrus Vodka: Infused with citrus fruits like lemon or orange.

What does Vodka taste like?

Vodka has a neutral and clean taste, often with a slight burn, and can leave a warming sensation in the throat due to its high alcohol content. Flavored vodkas can have varying taste profiles, depending on the added flavors. 

If vodka is made from grains, it usually tastes smooth and clean. Potato vodka has a thicker, creamier texture and can have a stronger, earthier flavor. When vodka is made from fruits, it often has a lighter, sweeter taste. Vodkas made from different ingredients or crafted in unique ways, such as infused vodkas, will have distinctive flavors depending on what’s added to them. For example, if herbs are added, the vodka might taste a bit spicy or savory. If fruits are added, the vodka might taste sweet and fruity. 

How much alcohol is in Vodka?

Vodka typically has an Alcohol by Volume (ABV) ranging from 35% to 50%, translating to 70 to 100 proof. 

It is in a similar range as most standard spirits: Rum also usually falls in this range, with an alcohol content between 35% and 50%. Gin generally has an alcohol content around 37.5% to 50%, and tequila usually has an alcohol content of 40%.

A vodka bottle and three shots on ice against a black background.

Are there any Vodka substitutes?

Sure! For non-alcoholic drink substitutes, white grape juice or apple juice mixed with a bit of lemon juice can work well. Non-alcoholic spirits like Seedlip are also a good option for mimicking the flavor of vodka in cocktails. If you’re looking for an alcoholic alternative with a similar burn, consider using a clear, unflavored spirit like Everclear, but be mindful of its high alcohol content. 

Top Best Vodka Brands (Yes, Tito’s and Smirnoff made the list… )

  1. Grey Goose:

Grey Goose, from France, has earned a reputation as one of the smoothest vodkas available, making it a top choice for many vodka connoisseurs.

  1. Belvedere:

Polish-made Belvedere is celebrated for its high-quality ingredients and exceptionally smooth and refined taste.

  1. Absolut:

Hailing from Sweden, Absolut offers many innovative flavors and maintains a tradition of high-quality vodka production.

  1. Smirnoff:

Smirnoff is a versatile and globally available brand, well-suited for various cocktails.

  1. Tito’s Handmade Vodka:

Produced in the United States, Tito’s Handmade Vodka is renowned for its smooth and pure flavor, resulting from a meticulous handcrafting process.

Close-up of a Tito's Handmade Vodka bottle label with a blurred background.

  1. Russian Standard:

Russian Standard, a brand steeped in Russian tradition, delivers a clean and smooth vodka, adhering to the high standards of its homeland.

  1. Stolichnaya:

Commonly known as Stoli, this brand offers a rich and robust flavor profile, making it a favorite among vodka enthusiasts.

  1. Ketel One:

Ketel One, a Dutch vodka, stands out for its crisp and sophisticated flavor derived from high-quality European wheat.

  1. Ciroc:

Ciroc, made from grapes, offers a distinctively sweet and smooth profile, setting it apart from its counterparts.

  1. Chopin:

Named after the famous composer, Chopin vodka from Poland is a premium choice known for its exquisite taste and high-quality production process.

Vodka Seltzers (Ready-to-Drink)

Vodka seltzer is a simple and refreshing drink made with vodka and bubbly water, often with a bit of lemon or lime flavor. It’s liked for being light and having fewer calories and less sugar than other mixed drinks. You can also find many ready-to-drink seltzer drinks in stores in different flavors. Some well-known brands are:

  1. High Noon Sun Sips
  2. Smirnoff Spiked Sparkling Seltzer
  3. Cutwater Spirits
  4. Truly Hard Seltzer (offers vodka-based seltzers in select markets)
  5. Absolut Vodka Sodas and Absolut Cocktails
  6. Ketel One Botanical Vodka Spritz

Where to buy Vodka online?

If you’re looking to buy vodka online, you have plenty of good options in the US!

Drizly

Drizly is a top choice for many. It’s easy to navigate and offers a vast selection of vodka brands. You can find anything from top-shelf to budget-friendly options here.

Total Wine & More

Total Wine & More is another great place to shop for vodka online. They have various vodka brands, including rare finds and limited editions. The prices are competitive, and the website is user-friendly, making your shopping experience smooth.

Saucey

Saucey is also worth checking out. This online store provides a variety of vodka options and promises speedy delivery. It’s a reliable service, and the site’s simplicity makes shopping for your favorite vodka a breeze.

Wine.com

Wine.com isn’t just about wine. They have a solid range of vodka too! The site is easy to use, and you can find some great deals and discounts. They offer a lot of information about each product, helping you make the right choice.

Caskers

Caskers offers a curated selection of vodka, focusing on quality. They have options from well-known brands to small-batch distilleries. The website is clear and straightforward, so you won’t have any trouble finding what you need.

BevMo!

BevMo! is a well-known name and a reliable choice for buying vodka online. They have a diverse selection and offer excellent customer service. The website is clear, and you can find many different brands and types of vodka to suit your taste.

Why we like Vodka

We like vodka for a lot of reasons. Its clear and simple taste is a favorite for those of us who like easy drinks, like having a vodka soda during a chill evening. Its neutral taste makes it a key ingredient in many of our go-to cocktails, whether a Moscow Mule at a party or a vodka martini at a nice dinner.

So many flavors are available, sweet and savory, allowing us to pick what we like the most. For those of us watching what we eat or dealing with food allergies, like needing gluten-free options, vodka has got us covered, and it’s also lower in calories compared to other drinks.

How much does Vodka cost – Price Ranges

Vodka prices can be all over the place, but here’s a quick rundown with some brand examples to give you an idea.

  • Low-Priced Vodkas:

So, some vodkas are pretty cheap, usually between $10 and $20 a bottle. Brands like Smirnoff and Svedka are in this range. They’re good for making mixed drinks and come in many different flavors.

  • Medium-Priced Vodkas:

There are vodkas between $20 and $30 if you can spend a bit more. Stolichnaya and Absolut are brands in this price range. They taste smoother and are good for drinking straight or in mixed drinks.

  • Premium Vodkas:

If you’re looking for fancy stuff, high-end vodkas start at about $30 and can go up to $100 or even more. Brands like Grey Goose and Belvedere are in this category. People usually drink these straight to enjoy the taste fully.

  • Ultra-Premium Vodkas:

If you really want to splurge, brands like Crystal Head and Purity Vodka can cost more than $100. They’re pricey because of the special ways they’re made and filtered.

  • Luxury Vodkas:

Then there are luxury brands like Leon Verres’ The Billionaire Vodka that can cost thousands of dollars! These are exclusive and not the kind of vodka you’d have daily.

  • Vodkas under $10:

Brands like Popov and Nikolai often have vodkas in this price range. They might not be as smooth to drink straight, but they do the job in cocktails and mixed drinks where you have other flavors to help balance them out.

How to drink Vodka?

There are many different ways to enjoy it, from quick shots to sophisticated sipping.

  • Shooting:

A lot of people like to drink vodka in shots. It’s a quick way to enjoy the spirit and is popular at parties and bars. It’s usually served chilled; some like to follow it up with a “chaser” like juice or soda to wash down the taste.

A row of 6 chilled vodka shots on a wooden surface with a blurred bottle in front and dark wooden background.

  • Sipping:

Some prefer to sip vodka, especially if it’s a high-quality one. When you sip vodka, you can really taste the different flavors and characteristics, just like with wine or whiskey. It’s usually served neat, meaning no ice or mixers, and often in a smaller glass.

  • Mixing:

Vodka is super versatile, which is great for mixing with other drinks. To make cocktails, people mix it with juices, sodas, and other mixers. The possibilities are endless, but common mixers are orange juice (to make a Screwdriver) and cranberry juice (for a Cape Codder).

  • Cocktails:

Bartenders use vodka as the base for many different cocktails. Some of the most famous cocktails are the Bloody Mary, which has tomato juice and spices, and the Moscow Mule, made with ginger beer and lime juice.

  • Infusing:

Some people like getting creative and infusing vodka with different flavors at home. You can add fruits, herbs, or spices and let them sit in the vodka for a few days. This way, you get a unique, flavored vodka that’s tailored to your taste.

Popular Vodka cocktails

Moscow Mule

A side shot of a Moscow Mule cocktail in a highball glass on a table with two line wedge and 2 pieces of ginger in front and a brown wooden bowl on the background.

This refreshing cocktail mixes vodka with tangy lime juice and spicy ginger beer. Served in a copper mug, it’s known for its unique presentation and zesty flavor profile.

Bloody Mary

A side shot of two Bloody Mary cocktails in highball glasses on black stone coasters placed on a dark wooden table.

 

Bloody Mary is a brunch favorite. It blends vodka with tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, and various seasonings. It’s often garnished with celery, olives, and sometimes even bacon!

Cosmopolitan

A side shot of a Cosmopolitan cocktail in a martini glass on a white marmol table with two orange slices on the side.

The Cosmopolitan, or “Cosmo,” is a sweet and tart cocktail. It combines vodka with triple sec, cranberry juice, and fresh lime juice. It’s served in a martini glass and often garnished with a lime twist.

Screwdriver

A Screwdriver cocktail, shot from a side, in a highball glass on a wooden coaster placed on a white marmol table with two orange slices in front

The Screwdriver is simple and refreshing. It’s just vodka and orange juice, typically served in a highball glass over ice, making it an easy-to-make and enjoyable drink.

White Russian

A White Russian cocktail on a small plate on a brown background with some coffee beans spread around

The White Russian mixes vodka with coffee liqueur and cream, creating a rich and flavorful drink. It’s typically served over ice in an old-fashioned glass.

Vodka Martini

Two Vodka Martini cocktails in a Martini glass on a stone plate, one garnish with orange twist and other one with olives

The Vodka Martini is a classic and elegant cocktail. It’s made with vodka and dry vermouth and is served in a martini glass, usually garnished with olives or a lemon twist.

Vodka Tonic

A side shot of a Vodka Tonic cocktail in highball glass on a black stone coaster with lime pieces around, placed on a white marmol table in front of a yellow wall.

Vodka Tonic is another easy-to-make cocktail. Mix vodka with tonic water over ice, and you have a refreshing and fizzy drink. Add a lime wedge for an extra zing.

Black Russian

A side shot of a Black Russian cocktail in an old fashioned glass on a light wooden coaster placed on a drak wooden table surrounded by coffee beans

The Black Russian is a simple, two-ingredient cocktail combining vodka and coffee liqueur. It’s bold and sweet, typically served over ice in an old-fashioned glass.

Sea Breeze

A side shot of a Sea Breeze cocktail in a highball glass on a wooden tray placed on a marmol table

The Sea Breeze is a fruity and refreshing cocktail. It’s made with vodka, cranberry juice, and grapefruit juice, typically served in a highball glass over ice, garnished with a lime wedge.

Lemon Drop Martini

A side shot of a Lemon Drop Martini cocktail in a martini glass on a square wooden coaster placed on a green table and two lemon behind

The Lemon Drop Martini is a sweet-and-sour cocktail. It mixes vodka with triple sec and lemon juice, served in a sugar-rimmed martini glass, often garnished with a lemon twist.

What are the ingredients of Vodka?

Vodka is quite simple when it comes to ingredients. It typically consists of two main ingredients:

  1. Water: Water is a fundamental ingredient in vodka, used to dilute the alcohol to the desired level, usually around 40% Alcohol by Volume (ABV).
  2. Ethanol: Ethanol is the type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages. It’s created through the fermentation of grains, fruits, or vegetables.

Fermentable Base:

The ethanol in vodka can be derived from a variety of fermentable substances, including:

  • Grains like wheat, rye, and corn
  • Potatoes
  • Grapes
  • Beets
  • Rice

The choice of fermentable base can influence the vodka’s flavor, texture, and overall profile. On the other hand, the distillation and filtration process tends to remove most of the distinct characteristics, aiming for a neutral and pure spirit.

How is Vodka made?

Making vodka is a process that involves fermentation, distillation, and sometimes, filtration. Here’s a simplified breakdown of the steps involved in making vodka:

  1. Choosing and Preparing Raw Materials:

Makers choose a fermentable base like grains, potatoes, or fruits. The chosen base is then mashed or crushed to release sugars needed for fermentation.

  1. Fermentation:

The mashed base is then mixed with water and yeast in fermentation tanks. Yeast consumes the sugars in the mixture and produces alcohol and carbon dioxide. This process can take several days and results in a liquid called “mash” or “wash” with relatively low alcohol content.

  1. Distillation:

After fermentation, the wash is distilled to separate alcohol from water, impurities, and other components. Distillation increases the alcohol content, and this process is repeated several times to achieve high purity and alcohol content. The goal is to produce a neutral spirit without distinct aromas or flavors.

  1. Rectification:

Some vodka is subjected to additional distillation or rectification to ensure maximum purity and neutrality. This process helps in removing any remaining impurities.

  1. Filtration:

Many vodkas undergo filtration to remove any remaining impurities. Filtration methods vary and can include activated charcoal or other filtering materials.

  1. Dilution:

The high-proof alcohol is diluted with water to reach the desired alcohol by volume (ABV), usually around 40%. The water used in this step is often demineralized and purified to maintain vodka’s neutrality.

  1. Bottling:

Finally, the vodka is bottled. Some vodka is rested or matured before bottling, but this is not a common practice as vodka is generally not aged.

Food Pairing

Vodka pairs well with many types of food because of its versatile and neutral taste. For starters, consider serving vodka with appetizers like smoked fish, caviar, or pickled vegetables, as it complements their flavors and refreshes the palate between bites. When you move on to the main course, vodka goes great with dishes that have bold flavors. It balances out the taste of spicy barbecue and creamy pasta dishes and complements the smokiness of grilled meats.

A hand taking a slice of bread with caviar on a table, with a vodka bottle and glass nearby.

 

If you have a sweet tooth, vodka can also be your companion for desserts. It pairs well with fruity and chocolatey sweets, allowing their flavors to shine while smoothing out the alcohol burn. And don’t forget about flavored vodkas—they can add an extra layer of taste to your meals, like citrus-flavored vodka with seafood or vanilla-infused vodka with creamy desserts.

Nutritional facts

The USDA supplies the nutritional data for a single shot of Vodka, which weighs 42 grams or 1.5 ounces. Here’s a table summarizing the nutritional facts:

Nutrient Amount Unit
Calories 97 kcal
Protein 0 grams
Fat 0 grams
Carbohydrates 0 grams
Fiber 0 grams
Vitamins 0
Minerals 0
Alcohol Content 35-50% Percentage

Note: The nutritional values can vary slightly depending on the specific brand and type of Vodka. Flavored or infused vodkas may contain additional calories from sugars and flavorings.

History and Origin of Vodka

Vodka has a rich and somewhat debated history, with Russia and Poland claiming to be its birthplace. The name “vodka” comes from the Slavic word “voda,” meaning water, reflecting its clear appearance. The first recorded production of vodka dates back to the 9th century in Russia, and by the 1400s, it was already a well-established drink in many Eastern European countries. People initially used vodka for medicinal purposes, serving as a valuable trade commodity.

Russia and Poland have refined and improved their vodka production methods over the centuries, developing a wide range of vodka varieties. The drink gained popularity in Western countries due to the rise of cocktails.

FAQs

  1. Is vodka gluten-free? Most vodka is distilled from grains, so it may contain small traces of gluten. However, many brands offer gluten-free options, typically made from potatoes, corn, or grapes.
  2. Can vodka go bad or expire? Vodka has an indefinite shelf life. It won’t spoil if stored properly, but its quality can diminish over time, especially after opening.
  3. How should vodka be stored? Vodka should be stored in a cool, dark place, and preferably in the refrigerator once opened.
  4. Can vodka be consumed straight? Yes, vodka can be consumed straight, chilled or at room temperature, depending on personal preference.
  5. Can vodka be used for cooking? Yes, vodka is often used in cooking to enhance flavors in dishes like pasta sauces.
  6. Is vodka popular in cocktails and why? Yes, vodka is extremely popular in cocktails due to its neutral flavor, which mixes well with other ingredients.
  7. Is vodka keto-friendly? Yes, vodka is keto-friendly as it contains no carbs.
  8. Can vodka be made at home? While it is technically possible, home distillation is illegal in many places and can be dangerous due to the risk of fire, explosion, and production of harmful substances.
  9. What are the health impacts of consuming vodka? Consuming vodka in moderation can reduce stress, but excessive consumption can lead to serious health issues like liver damage and addiction.
  10. Is vodka less likely to cause hangovers? Vodka may cause fewer hangovers than drinks with more congeners, but excessive drinking will likely still result in a hangover.
  11. How can the quality of vodka be determined? The quality of vodka is often determined by its purity, smoothness, and lack of a burn or harsh aftertaste.
  12. Are there any color variations in vodka? Pure vodka is colorless. Any color variations usually come from additives or impurities.
  13. What is the proper way to taste vodka? To properly taste vodka, sip it neat at room temperature and let it coat your mouth to discern the different flavor notes.
  14. What is white claw seltzer? White Claw is a popular brand known for its hard seltzers, but it’s worth noting that White Claw products are not vodka seltzers. Instead, White Claw Hard Seltzer is made from a blend of seltzer water, a gluten-free alcohol base, and a hint of fruit flavor.
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