Drinks The “Girlie Drink” Myth: Why You Should Stop Gendering Cocktails Depending
Pot-ay-to, Pot-ah-to, We Say Best Vodka
Drinking vodka may bring back memories of foul-tasting shots at university parties, but there are plenty of high-quality, well-made vodka brands that are worth giving a try.
Vodka can be served neat or with ice and/or a mixer, but we suggest sticking to premium vodkas to avoid some of the less-desirable flavors that some brands have. If you invest in a premium vodka, like one from our selection below, you’d be doing yourself a disservice drinking it right out of the freezer. You want to be tasting the nuance of flavor in our picks for the best vodka, so keep these bad boys in your liquor cabinet instead.
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If you do happen to have a bottle of lesser quality, storing it in the freezer is actually a good idea. Many people store vodka in the freezer, but not everyone knows why. Yes, the reason is to keep it cold, but keeping it at such low temperatures actually subdues the nuance of flavor in vodkas. If you have a lower-quality vodka, the freezer temps will hide some of the negative attributes in the vodka that you don’t really want to be tasting anyway.
The 10 Best Vodka Brands
We’ve compiled a list of our favorite vodkas on the market to get you started, whether you want to sip it, mix it with club soda, or put it in a Caesar or Cosmo. (Not sure about “girlie drinks”? Click here for our piece on why you should stop gendering cocktails.)
Best Vodka to Sip: Crystal Head
Crystal Head is not your average, run-of-the-mill vodka. It’s most commonly known for its owner, one of your all-time favorite Canadian actors, Dan Ackroyd. The vodka is actually Canadian too, made at one of the last government-owned distilleries in the world in St. John’s, Newfoundland, an island located off the Canadian coast. You can’t mistake the bottle in the store either. It’s in the shape of — you guessed it — a crystal skull. The bottles actually contain bits of crystal melted into the glass too.
If you still don’t think these guys love crystal enough, Crystal Head filters its vodka seven times, with three of these passes done through semi-precious crystals called Herkimer diamonds. We’re guessing this might have something to do with the price of a bottle coming out at close to $100. Crystal Head claims that filtering with the Herkimer diamonds is the secret to making its vodka oh so smooth.
The distilling process, using the “pristine” water of Newfoundland, produces a clean vodka that has notes of citrus and a hint of vanilla. The finish is sweet and creamy, making it the best vodka for sipping rather than masking with mixers. We reviewed the original Crystal Head vodka, but the brand also offers a variety of other vodkas, including a Pride vodka in a rainbow-colored skull bottle and an Onyx vodka made in Mexico in a black crystal skull.
Best for Vodka Soda: Grey Goose
Grey Goose has become one of the most popular vodkas since it came out in the 90s and can be found at most bars. This makes it easy, then, to order it in a simple mixed drink like a vodka soda. Made in France with soft winter wheat and spring water, Grey Goose’s clean, smooth finish allows it to pair well with soda water. Just add a lime or lemon wedge (or lemon juice or lime juice) and you’re set. It’s an accessible vodka choice that may not be as unique as some of the others on our list, but it by no means offends anyone with a negative flavor. It’s clean, straightforward, and a good option to have on-hand in your home bar. Bonus points for being gluten free.
Pretty much any brand of soda water at your liquor store will pair well with vodka. Schweppes and Canada Dry are probably the most common soda waters on the market, or if you want to get fancier and spend a little more, we recommend Fever Tree club soda or Q Tonic club soda.
Best Botanicals: Ketel One Botanical
Best Polish Vodka: Chopin Potato
Best for Martinis: Belvedere
Best Celeb Brand: King St. Vodka
There’s no shortage of celebrity spirit lines out there, and some are better than others. Actress Kate Hudson got into the vodka game in 2019 with King St. Vodka, which is essentially the essence of the California-bred, blonde actress in a bottle. The non-GMO, gluten-free vodka is distilled seven times in small batches using alkaline water and is made in Santa Barbara, California. The bottle, adorned with pink and florals, certainly stands out on the shelf amongst other vodka options. According to Hudson, she wanted to create a vodka that represented quality and fun, and King St. does just that.
Best Splurge: Beluga Noble Gold
Best Classic: Absolut
Best for Bloody Marys: Square One Basil
Best for Caesars: Lucky Bastard Dill Pickle
Dill pickle vodka may not sound good to everyone, but if you’re a pickle lover, we suggest this vodka from Lucky Bastard. The Lucky Bastard dill pickle vodka is naturally infused with real dill pickle flavor made from Elman’s award-winning dill pickles in brine.
After tasting this vodka mixed with a few other things (unsurprisingly, not everything tasted good!), we found that the Lucky Bastard Dill Pickle is the best vodka for Caesars. This shouldn’t really come as a surprise since pickles are already a stellar Caesar topping. The only problem is that they taste so good, the vodka will creep up on you after a couple of Caesars.