When it comes to flavored vodkas, the trend has (finally!) shifted away from faux cupcakes and cinnamon buns and toward fruit, tea and spice. These are the bottles—from intriguingly savory to sweet treats—to pour right now.
The Flavor: Dill Pickle
The Bottle: Chilled Dills Pickle Flavored Vodka ($20)
Yes, it sounds odd. But the briny flavor is just right for Bloody Mary and Dirty Martini variations, as well as riffs on the pickleback.
The Flavor: Chile Pepper
Image via Jason Tinacci
The Bottle: St George Green Chile Vodka ($30)
Made from California jalapeños, habaneros, serranos and bell peppers, look for mouthwatering cooked-pepper savoriness, mild heat and a crisp finish.
The Flavor: Citrus
The Bottle: Square One Bergamot ($35)
Bergamot, best known for its clarion presence in Earl Grey tea, is a fragrant type of orange. Here, it’s blended with more familiar mandarin, tangerine and navel oranges and lightly sweetened with organic tapioca-root syrup for a delicate, breezy citrus flavor plus a zingy touch of ginger.
The Flavor: Hot Sauce
The Bottle: UV Sriracha ($12)
This bottle is tinted the lurid red of the famous hot sauce. So it’s a surprise when the vodka pours crystal clear. It smells like Sriracha, aka garlic and chiles, though it doesn’t quite capture the addictive spicy-sweet flavor that makes the hot sauce such a kitchen staple. Still, a great way to add sizzle to a Bloody Mary or other savory drinks.
The Flavor: Mango
The Bottle: New Amsterdam Mango Flavored Vodka ($15)
This bottle was released early in 2015. Look for a bold, fruity aroma and sweet palate that seems just right for mixing tropical drinks.
The Bottle: Deep Eddy Sweet Tea Flavored Vodka ($15)
Distilled from corn and steeped with tea leaves and honey, this Texas-made vodka resembles strong-brewed sweet tea in look, scent and flavor. Ideal for Arnold Palmers and other like-minded cocktails.
The Flavor: Spice
The Bottle: The Bay Seasoned Vodka ($25 for 1 liter)
Made with Chesapeake Bay seasoning from Maryland, this clear vodka tells a savory story, with a salty burst followed by cayenne and black pepper, and a clean finish. Follow the producer’s cue and try it with oyster shooters.
Kara Newman is a New York–based spirits and cocktail writer, and author of Cocktails for a Crowd (Chronicle Books).
St George's new green chile vodka was sadly kinda disappointing - I've been a huge fan of St George for years, and of the many tasty things they've made, my favorite was their limited-run chipotle vodka - sooooo tasty. When I heard they were making a new chile vodka, I was super excited. I tracked down a bottle a few weeks ago, and... it's not nearly as good. It's not *bad*, really I guess it tastes like what it's supposed to - it's just a lot more green and a lot less chile than their old chipotle one was. Oh well.
Meanwhile, I haven't had the Square One bergamot, but I will say of vodkas I've had recently, that brand's basil offering is super tasty. (Don't bother with the "botanic", though - it's not a bad spirit, but it's basically just a good gin. I was expecting something exotic, but nope, basically just a good gin. And St George's gin wins.)
I will have to try that sweet tea one sometime - one of my other favorite vodkas is also a sweet tea, namely Firefly's offering in that same vein.
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