According to Chilled Magazine, this clear grain spirit got its start over 1,000 years ago in Russia—or maybe Poland? No one’s quite sure. What we do know is that modern vodka is typically distilled multiple times for maximum quality and a higher alcohol content. Vodka is a combination of water and ethanol, which means it’s flavorless by design. This turns many people off from vodka; they want their liquor to have complex flavors.
Photo courtesy of Tito's Vodka
In this article, we’re going to give you unique cocktail recipes with vodka that you can make at home. These cocktails have a range of different flavor profiles, to prove that vodka can fit into almost any cocktail and play nice with the other flavors.
The Caipiroska is a spin-off version of Brazil’s national cocktail: the caipirinha; which is made by muddling sugar and lime together before adding ice and cachaça, a sugar cane spirit similar to rum. The caipiroska is similar on all counts, except it swaps the cachaça for vodka, creating a slightly more straightforward drink, especially for those who aren’t used to cachaça’s signature funk.
Note: with its simple flavor profile, the caipiroska is great for experimenting with other flavors. For a fun, fruity twist, try adding coconut, passionfruit, raspberry, or pineapple.
Not only is the espresso martini a delicious cocktail, it gives you a serious energy boost—like a Five Hour Energy that gets you tipsy. There are many different espresso martini recipes out there, but at their core they’re all the same: espresso and vodka. Our espresso martini recipe leans toward the simple side, which allows you to fully taste the complex, bitter notes that the espresso brings.
Before the Starbucks craze, there was an original “pink drink,” the Cosmopolitan. As with many things in the cocktail world, there’s hot debate over who originally invented this vodka-based cocktail, but it got its start in the late 1980’s in the United States—not quite old enough to be considered a “classic,” but an influential cocktail nonetheless. The Cosmopolitan isn’t made with traditional neutral vodka, but a citrus-infused “citron” vodka, like Absolut citron.
Let the pineapple sing in this vodka based smash. With the aromatics of rosemary and bitters, this fruity and boozy cocktail is summertime ready. The smash category of cocktail has been around since the very beginning of cocktail history. It generally combines seasonal fruit, mint, sugar, and a spirit base. In this recipe, we forgo the mint, and smash lemon wedges with our Pineapple Gum Syrup for a delicious and unique take on the smash.
Here’s another cocktail recipe with flavored vodka, and it’s a fun one: the pornstar martini. A delicious blend of passionfruit and vanilla makes for a sweet and fruity concoction that’s made even more indulgent by the addition of a shot of chilled champagne.
Next, we have yet another cocktail recipe with vodka and coffee: the White Russian. The signature drink of the Dude (or El Duderino, if you’re not into the whole “brevity” thing), the drink is now synonymous with the 1998 Coen Brothers comedy, The Big Lebowski. The White Russian originated with the addition of heavy cream to the existing Black Russian cocktail, which is simply a mixture of vodka and coffee liqueur over ice.
The Moscow Mule is one of the cocktails recognized for its vessel as much as its taste. Traditionally served in a frosty copper mug, this vodka cocktail is equal parts sweet, tart, and spicy. According to Moscow Copper Co, the Moscow Mule was the brainchild of three hard-pressed business owners, each trying to sell their signature product to unenthused Americans of the 1940’s. A copper mug manufacturer, a ginger beer brewer, and the owner of Smirnoff distillery walk into a bar… and the rest is history.
Fans of the White Russian above, will love this flavorful drink. It takes everything up a notch, and is a delicious spin on the original. You can also make it with Coca-Cola.
In the beginning, the lemon drop martini wasn’t a martini at all. The lemon drop was originally served in a cocktail glass, at a 1970’s bar called Henry Africa’s. Throughout the years it gained the addition of a sugared rim for extra sweetness, and made its way into a martini glass (or a shot glass).
Over the years, vodka has successfully made its way into cocktail culture, as well as our hearts. We don’t judge vodka for not having a signature flavor of its own, we celebrate it for being a team player that’s ready to fill any role. We hope you enjoy these seven cocktail recipes with vodka; please let us know in the comments which ones you tried!