Vodka gets a bad rap.
Often masked by fruit juices meant to cover up the booze, the spirit is like the middle child of the alcohol industry.
Time to flip that script and give vodka a moment in the spotlight. No sugary concoctions, no overwhelming fruit juices, these cocktails will pull back the curtain and give the unnecessarily maligned spirit top billing.
There’s no better way to start off this list than with an old-fashioned vodka Martini. Yes, traditionally gin is the base spirit of this classic cocktail. But any episode of Mad Men, for example, shows that vodka works just as well (sometimes). Ketel One works wonderfully with dry vermouth but any vodka will do the trick and requires only two ingredients. It doesn’t get any more badass than this.
There’s nothing quite like a well-made Dirty Martini for the savory cocktail lover. Like most Martinis, these usually require gin. But if you love the salty taste of olives, vodka doesn’t compete with the flavor as much as the botanical elements of gin. The exact measurements for the perfect Dirty Martini will be a debate that will last forever. If you’re a novice, this recipe is a good place to start until you figure out what you love. Also, who doesn’t love a cocktail that comes with its own snack?
The Dirty Martini isn’t the only way to go savory with your vodka. The Gibson takes the classic cocktail’s bare-bone ingredients and pairs them with a different garnish: onions. Don’t worry about your tear ducts. Neither the onions nor the cocktail will make you cry—unless they’re tears of joy, of course. And they may cure your ails: The creator of this drink believed onions prevented colds.
Even liquors get lonely. In the Ascot, vodka gets a little help from cognac, making this drink a doubly boozy delight. Armed with two liquors and two vermouths, this cocktail is smooth and sophisticated, with sweetness from the cognac and sweet vermouth. There’s also dryness from––you guessed it––the dry vermouth and the vodka. A drink for the cocktail lover who wants it all.
Think you know the booze?
Let’s start with some basics.