The latest crop of vodkas has landed. And these bottles have Vodka Sodas and other cocktails squarely in their sights.
The lineup of flavored vodkas is particularly robust, with new entrants from juggernauts like Absolut, Ciroc and Grey Goose, among others. Of particular note, every single flavored vodka appearing on this list mentions fruit, from watermelon to citrus and tropical fruits like guava. Some also include herbaceous or floral touches, but fruit is firmly front and center. This most likely is a reaction to the rise of hard seltzers, which primarily feature fruity flavors. But they also make for versatile additions to Spritzes and other effervescent cocktails.
Within the vodka universe, the polar opposite of flavored varieties are relatively unvarnished bottlings that embrace natural characteristics imparted by raw materials. For example, Skyy has revamped its vodka to include water enriched with minerals sourced from the San Francisco Bay area and emphasizes the minerality and salinity that water provides. Elsewhere, Hood River’s Timberline vodka is distilled from a mix of grains and 14 different varieties of non-GMO Pacific Northwest apples and cut with Oregon spring water.
Some purists might suspect that the emphasis on the natural origins behind these vodkas might mean they’re intended to be enjoyed neat, untainted by tonic water, club soda or other mixers. But that wouldn’t be entirely accurate. In fact, Skyy says its new mineral-enriched liquid is “intended to enhance the mouthfeel and fresh taste of the Vodka Soda.”
So grab whichever of these dozen bottles that catches your fancy, and start mixing.
With its producer describing the flavor as similar to watermelon juice, this new watermelon-flavored vodka is crystal clear (despite the rosy bottle label) and has no added sugar. Released in April 2021, it’s a potentially refreshing addition to a wide range of summer drinks.
This is the first flavored vodka in nearly eight years from Mississippi’s Cathead Distillery. Made with bitter orange and satsuma extracts, the vodka is described by its producer as having an orange-blossom fragrance and subtle notes of ripe satsuma and freshly peeled bitter orange.
The brand from Sean “Diddy” Combs has a history of limited-edition flavors; for summer 2021, the focus is a sunny “blend of natural orange and citrus flavors.” Except for orange, the brand doesn’t reveal which citrus is in the mix, but tasting notes provided by the producer suggest blood orange aromas and a hint of lime zest.
The newest skull-shaped offering from the company owned by actor Dan Ackroyd, released in October 2020, is distilled from agave. The bottle is onyx-hued, hence the name; its glossy goth appearance will be just right for a certain bar aesthetic. The liquid inside has nuanced sweetness and a peppery finish.
Austin’s Deep Eddy launched its first new flavor in three years in March 2021, building on its standard vodka base with bright, tart flavor derived from real lime juice. “Citrus tells the success story of Deep Eddy,” according to its producer, as lime joins grapefruit and lemon flavors in the brand’s portfolio (though it has plenty of other noncitrus flavors, such as Sweet Tea, in the range as well).
The trio of flavored vodkas released in February 2021 comprises “bright and citrusy” Strawberry & Lemongrass, “floral, yet savory” White Peach & Rosemary and “dewy and peppery” Watermelon & Basil. The emphasis is on all-natural ingredients, so each expression is infused with fruit and cold-distilled botanicals and contains no artificial ingredients or sugar.
Two new fruit-forward flavored vodkas from Pinnacle, Apricot Honeysuckle and Guava Lime, focus on the no-sugar/low-calorie angle. The lineup, released in April 2021, is positioned for mixing into spritzes, sparklers and other bubbly summer drinks.
Technically, this isn’t a new brand. But the liquid has been reformulated specifically to play better in the classic Vodka Soda combo. Working with experts, including a geologist and a “water sommelier,” Skyy is leaning into the terroir-in-vodka trend. The new version incorporates water enriched with minerals sourced from the San Francisco Bay Area, for character and “subtle salinity,” according to its producer. The bottle also has been redesigned, with ripples meant to evoke the waves of the Pacific Ocean.
From Hood River Distillers in Hood River, Oregon, this vodka is distilled from a mix of grain and 14 different varieties of non-GMO Pacific Northwest apples and cut with Oregon spring water. The vodka goes through “46 levels of purification,” according to its producer, and “reflects the spirit and love of the outdoors and those who thrive in it.”