Vodka is only becoming popular. Today, it's experiencing nearly 5% revenue growth, continuing its upward trend. There are many reasons why the vodka drink is so popular. Vodka is very smooth and is the perfect addition to various cocktails. You can also flavor vodka, which is perfect for certain drinks and shots.
If you're new to drinking vodka, you may be overwhelmed by the different brands and the number of options. Don't worry, we can help. Here are the different types of vodka and our favorite brands.
What Is Vodka?
Vodka is a clear, distilled spirit. The first documented vodka was distilled in Russia at the end of the 9th century. Since then, vodka has spread throughout Europe—notably in Sweden and Poland—before reaching North America. Vodka is distilled using water and grain, though distilleries use corn or potatoes to make gluten-free vodka.
Types of Vodka
Vodka has come a long way since the 9th century. There are various vodka types and different brands. If you want to try vodka, your options are limitless.
When choosing vodka, you'll first want to identify the type you want. Here's a breakdown of the different types of vodka and choosing which one is right for you.
Top-Shelf and High-End
There's a reason why top-shelf vodka (which may also be called high-end) is fancier and more expensive. High-end brands don't have the ethanol vodka flavor, so it tastes smoother.
This type of vodka is made of better quality ingredients and by a reliable distillery. The distillery also uses state-of-the-art equipment and distills the vodka multiple times, resulting in a higher-quality product. The distillery may also use exquisite packaging to improve the product's longevity.
To drink your vodka neat, you should choose high-end vodka. You can serve it chilled or over ice to cut down on the sharp taste.
Value and Well
Valued vodka (meaning it's on the middle and bottom shelves) isn't necessarily of bad quality. These vodkas are consumer-grade products that you will see at every liquor store and bar. This vodka is accessible and inexpensive, making this the largest vodka category.
You can find various value vodka brands that are high-quality, meaning reputable distilleries make them. Value vodka can still be distilled numerous times to remove any impurities. This vodka may be smooth enough for a shot, but most users drink value vodka in cocktails and mixed drinks. You may also include flavored vodka in this list, which we will discuss next.
You may also hear the term Well. Well is a brand of affordable liquors, but it has become a name that describes bottom-shelf spirits. To avoid confusion with the brand, many bars will call these affordable spirits "house brands." Well and house vodka isn't bad tasting, but the flavor is basic and is best enjoyed when mixed with a cocktail or shot.
Because vodka has a smooth taste, distilleries can add various flavors to vodka. Most flavors of vodka are sweeter, making them perfect to add to certain shots and cocktails. You can also drink flavored vodka alone, preferably over ice.
There are limitless flavored vodka options on the market. Strawberry vodka is perfect for mixing with various summer drinks, while caramel vodka is a go-to for dessert cocktails. If you're unsure which flavored vodka you want, fruity flavors like tropical punch are a favorite.
Vodka is usually made from distilling liquid from grains, which means those with celiac disease are limited to the types of vodka they can consume. Fortunately, there are gluten-free brands and types of vodka available. Instead of traditional grains, distilleries make gluten-free vodka from corn or potatoes. Gluten-free vodka is also affordable, high-quality, and tastes great.
Best Vodka Brands
Now that you know the different types of vodka, are you ready to go shopping? Here are our favorite vodka brands.
Skyy Vodka is an American company based in California. This company uses grain and water only sourced from the U.S. Skyy Blue Vodka has a very neutral taste, perfect for vodka mixed drinks. The distillery triple-distills and quadruple-filters its vodka, so it has a very smooth taste. Because of these facts, Skyy Vodka is one of the best and most popular vodka brands in the world.
Plus, Skyy Vodka has widespread availability and is pretty affordable for its quality. The bottle is stylish and will look superb in a home bar.
Absolut is a vodka made without sugar and only uses high-quality ingredients, giving this vodka a premium taste. Absolut also filters its vodka three times, so it tastes clean. Because of this, Absolut is known as one of the best vodkas in the world.
Absolut is a Swedish company that makes its vodka from locally-grown wheat. Its unflavored vodka is a staple at any liquor store and bar. It's smooth enough to drink chilled and neat, or you can mix this vodka with any cocktail. Absolut also sells various flavored vodkas, from vanilla to hibiscus.
No matter what Absolut variety you get, this vodka is available at a relatively low price, and you can find it worldwide.
Tito's vodka was founded in Austin, Texas by Bert "Tito" Beveridge. Tito's opened its doors in 1997, making them the oldest distillery in Texas. There are many reasons why Tito's took over the vodka scene. First, they distill their vodka in a pot six times, and it's filtered through charcoal. This is what gives Tito's its smooth flavor. Tito's also uses corn instead of grain, making the vodka gluten-free. All of these are reasons why Tito's is the country's top-selling spirit and why this vodka brand took over the world.
If you're truly looking for high-end vodka, you should choose Beluga. Beluga was named after the most expensive caviar in the world, so this is as top-quality as you can get. Distilled in Western Siberia, Beluga is authentic Russian vodka and uses artisan ingredients to give it its irresistible flavor. It's filtered twice through quartz sand and a silver filter for a crisp finish.
Beluga vodka has a smooth flavor but is mixed with notes of milk thistle, honey, vanilla, oat, white pepper, sage, and cream. Because of these complex and exquisite flavors, Beluga is best enjoyed neat. You can keep a bottle of Beluga at your home bar or give it as a gift to a loved one.
Grey Goose is a vodka brand located in France. The company was formed in 1997 by Cellar Master Francois Thibault. Grey Goose vodka is made with two ingredients: Picardie wheat and spring water from the well in Gensac-la-Pallue. Today, Grey Goose is one of the few farm-to-cork brands. And since its inception, its recipe has remained untouched.
All of these are reasons why Grey Goose Vodka is a go-to for bartenders and vodka enthusiasts worldwide. Grey Goose also boasts other flavors, such as lemon and melon. Grey Goose only uses botanical essences and real fruit in their flavored vodkas.
Smirnoff is the best-selling vodka in the world. It's affordable, has every flavor imaginable, and has a smooth taste despite its low price. Because of this, Smirnoff is a good introductory brand for those new to vodka. However, even seasoned drinkers may choose to have Smirnoff in their cocktail.
Pinnacle vodka is a French brand owned by Beam Suntory, and it's made of the same ingredients as Grey Goose. Because of this, Pinnacle vodka has a crisp and complex taste.
You can serve it alone and chilled, but Pinnacle vodka is also perfect for cocktails. Pinnacle offers numerous flavors, making this brand a go-to for mixologists. Pinnacle vodka is accessible worldwide and comes at a lower price point than Grey Goose.
Svedka vodka is known as one of the most affordable and accessible brands. The name "Svedka" is a play on words, combining the terms "Sweden" and "vodka."
It's distilled from Swedish winter wheat, giving their vodka its sweet yet peppery flavor. Svedka distills their vodka five times, making it an easy-to-drink choice. Thanks to its neutral taste, Svedka vodka is perfect to mix in cocktails.
Belvedere vodka is a top-shelf brand known for being one of the smoothest-tasting types of vodka in the world. The distillery is based in Poland and distilled at the Polmos Zyrardow distillery, known for being the birthplace of vodka.
Belvedere vodka is distilled using Dankowskie Gold Rye, giving the vodka a softer mouthfeel and a bolder flavor. The vodka is distilled using a four-column still process and local water. Then, it's filtered through charcoal. Because of its unique taste, Belvedere vodka is one you'll want to drink neat. For best results, sip Belvedere vodka over ice or in an ice-cold shot glass.
There are other reasons why Belvedere is high-end. The bottle is classy and features beautiful artwork. It's an aromatic vodka but is clean enough for anyone to enjoy.
Russian Standard is a vodka company owned by Roust Corporation, the largest spirits producer and distributor in Central and Eastern Europe. This vodka stands out for its softer taste; Russian Standard uses water from local lakes and only selected grain to produce it. Russian Standard is popular in Russia, throughout Europe, and even in the U.K. As a premium brand, Russian Standard is best enjoyed neat.
Should You Freeze Vodka?
You may notice friends and family freeze their vodka bottles. But why? And is this necessary?
First, vodka is best enjoyed chilled—especially high-end vodka. You should serve your vodka at 0-4 degrees Celsius (32-40 degrees Fahrenheit). This is the temperature of most freezers, which is why your loved ones may store their vodka in the freezer. Freezing the vodka improves the mouthfeel and reduces the strong ethanol flavor.
However, you don't have to constantly keep the bottle in the freezer. If you serve your vodka too cold, it can mute some of the flavors.
That's why there are more vodka storage options. You can always refrigerate your vodka instead of freezing it, keeping it chilled but not too cold. Before freezing, keep the vodka in the freezer for a few minutes. You can also keep your vodka out at room temperature and serve it over ice.
Best Cocktails for Vodka
Vodka can be enjoyed "neat." Neat means "poured directly from the bottle with no mixers." Because of its versatility, vodka is also a popular spirit for mixing. Some popular cocktails that use vodka include:
- Moscow Mule
- Bloody Mary
- White Russian
- Lemon Drop
- Orange Crush
- Vodka Tonic
- Long Island Iced Tea
- Vodka Punch
- Boozy Butterbeer Punch
- Spiked Lemonade
- Sex on the Beach
- Vodka Coolers
- Boozy Slushies
All of these cocktails can be as simple or complex as you want. Here are some popular recipes:
A classic Martini combines high-quality vodka with dry vermouth and olives or a lemon slice for garnish.
Cosmopolitans are a fruitier classic; this drink includes cranberry juice, citrus-flavored vodka, lime, and Cointreau.
Moscow Mule calls for lime juice, vodka, ginger beer, and a lime wedge for garnish.
White Russian combines Kahlua, vodka, and a splash of heavy cream.
Lemon Drop can be either a shot or a cocktail. To make the cocktail, you'll need triple sec, vodka, simple syrup, lemon juice, and a sugar rim to garnish. The Lemon Drop shot combines lemon juice, vodka, white sugar, and a lemon slice for garnish.
You can also get creative with your vodka cocktails. For example, opt for an Espresso Martini instead of a traditional one. This recipe calls for coffee liqueur, vodka, simple syrup, brewed espresso, and coffee beans as garnish.
Do You Want to Buy Vodka?
Vodka is one of the most popular spirits. This alcohol has been around for centuries and has evolved into one of the most versatile spirits.
There are so many different types of vodka, and we hope we helped you decide on the best one. Before running to your local bar or liquor store to pick up vodka, make sure you're buying your vodka from the best source. You can always buy your vodka online so your favorite alcohol can be delivered to your doorstep.
We sell various vodka brands, from top-shelf to value brands. Shop our vodka today!