When it comes to liquor sales, there is no competing with vodka. Last year, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS), it out-sold gin, rum, tequila, Irish whiskey and Scotch—combined. And what’s helping drive this growth is a bewildering selection of flavored vodkas.
While flavored vodkas have been around for decades (Stolichnaya introduced the first ones in the l960s), over the last few years we’ve moved well past familiar varieties such as citrus, raspberry and mango into uncharted territory. We’re talking about vodka that tastes like cake, popcorn and even salmon.
It’s not uncommon for a brand to have dozens of different flavors. Now, just like fashion designers, these companies debut ever more exotic varieties each season. In 2012 alone, according to DISCUS, 122 new flavored vodkas went on sale.
These flavored vodkas have become so popular that other liquor categories are following suit. A few years ago, Jim Beam rolled out Red Stag, a line of flavored whiskies including Spiced with Cinnamon, Black Cherry and Honey Tea, and Jack Daniel’s now offers a Tennessee Honey.
So whether or not you’re willing to try these vodkas, we know you’re at least a bit curious to see our list of the 17 craziest vodka flavors on the market. Cheers?
A combination of “the zesty, citrus taste of orange and sweet lime with a creamy raspberry” flavor, Pinnacle’s Rainbow Sherbet Vodka is the latest addition to the brand’s line of 35 (!) flavors. It hit the market in early April of 2013.
This spiked soda-fountain classic from Smirnoff combines the syrupy flavor of root beer and the rich, milky taste of ice cream. It debuted earlier this year and probably tastes best when added to an actual root beer float. Can’t hurt, right?
No need to endure a leaky tent, mosquitoes and an arduous hike in order to enjoy this camping treat. You can have the taste of s’mores anytime you want with this Three Olives vodka. It debuted last year and is best served in small doses.
What alcohol do you pair with a bagel and a shmear of cream cheese? This fishy spirit, of course, which is made by the Alaska Distillery and was introduced in 2010. We bet this...um...unique spirit would be good in a savory Bloody Mary. It’s available in select markets across the US and Canada, including New York, British Columbia and, naturally, Alaska.
One sip of Pinnacle’s Red Liquorice and you’ll be transported back to middle school. The candy-flavored vodka, which was originally launched as Gummy in 2011, tastes something like Swedish Fish and Twizzlers. Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about it getting stuck in your braces.
In case you haven’t gotten your fill of sweet childhood nostalgia yet, pick up Van Gogh’s PB&J. The flavor is a combination of smooth (not chunky) peanut butter and raspberry jelly. The brand has more than 20 different flavored vodkas in its portfolio already, including Banana (which you can combine with PB&J for an even better sandwich cocktail), Dutch Caramel and Rich Dark Chocolate.
Fireweed is a sweet and spicy herb that blankets the boreal forests and mountains of Alaska. It’s often made into jellies and candies, and in 2011 Alaska Distillery used it to create a new product for its line of indigenous ingredient-inspired vodkas, which also includes spirits flavored with birch syrup and local honey.
Set to officially launch in June, Strawberry Shortcake is Pinnacle’s latest flavor of the month. According to the company, it’s “reminiscent of sweetened strawberries and whipped cream with brown shortcake notes.”
Chefs and bartenders love few foods more than pork, so it’s no surprise that there is a bacon vodka. Bakon hit the market in 2009, and the base is distilled from Idaho Russet Burbank potatoes. While we can’t imagine this in a classic Martini, it would work in the Canadian favorite the Bloody Caesar.
Even if your parents wouldn’t let you eat Froot Loops as a kid, you can now drink this sugary, fruity vodka, which is of course absolutely not named after that trademarked Kellogg’s product. (Well done, lawyers!) It hit the market in early 2012 and has had people raising their eyebrows ever since.
Whipped-cream vodka is a giant hit, and nearly every big brand now offers one—Pinnacle, for example, has not only Whipped but also Chocolate Whipped, Cherry Whipped and Orange Whipped. (A company called Whipped Lightning is even selling boozy whipped cream in a can.) Smirnoff introduced its version of the liquid dessert topping in 2011.
This is where the flavored-vodka spectrum gets a bit confusing. Both Three Olives’ Purple and Grape vodkas are grape-flavored. For the record, Purple claims to be made from frozen crushed grapes and is actually purple in color, while the clear Grape features “the natural taste of juicy Concord grapes.” Glad we were able to figure that one out.
Americans love popcorn and consume 16 billion quarts of the movie theater-treat every year, according to The Popcorn Board (yes, popcorn has a board). No doubt you’ve had microwave popcorn and probably sweet kettle or caramel corn, but how about a popcorn cocktail? Environmentally conscious brand 360 now sells Buttered Popcorn Vodka and suggests serving it with cola and an actual-popcorn garnish.
We’ve definitely heard of breakfast for dinner, but how about breakfast for happy hour? With Burnett’s Maple Syrup Vodka, you can make this idea a reality. It’s one of 33 vodka flavors in the company’s portfolio, which also includes Cherry Cola, Fruit Punch and Candy Cane, as well as a gin and a line of rums.
While the rest of these flavors may come and go, bison grass-infused vodka has been produced in Poland since medieval times. The aromatic herb, also known as sweet grass and holy grass, grows throughout Northern Europe and North America. It gives the finished product a grassy and herbaceous flavor with notes of almond, vanilla, chamomile and lavender. According to the brand, Polish nobility enjoyed drinking this elixir with apple juice hundreds of years ago.
This “dynamic fusion of classic fruit flavors” hit the market in 2009 and is now one of Three Olives’ older expressions. As with a real stick of bubblegum, it’s hard to imagine actually pairing this vodka with anything else, but the brand recommends mixing it with cranberry juice and ginger ale, or lemon-lime soda. Please let us know how that works out.
In recognition of National Donut Day, which takes place on the first Friday in June and was first celebrated in 1938, sustainable vodka brand 360 released Glazed Donut Vodka in 2012. While we still prefer the fried variety, one ounce of this sweet, sweet elixir has only 80 calories.
Mixing your cocktail