Vodka is a versatile liquor that is the main ingredient in countless drinks. It’s a staple in bars and liquor stores, as the opportunities to create unique cocktail recipes with it are endless. Many drinks to know as a bartender contain this popular liquor-it's common in any liquor bottle display, and it does a fabulous job at intensifying any drink.
Many drink specials and happy hour menus will mention different vodka brands. Keep in mind that each vodka can differ from one another. To understand how a particular vodka could impact your beverage, it’s time to learn what makes each of them unique.
What Makes Vodkas Different?
Main ingredients and the number of times each vodka is distilled can create drastic differences. Variables can consist of flavors, aromas, mouthfeel, and ABV.
Flaunt your mixologist skills with the right vodka for the perfect drinks. Just remember that different vodka cocktails require different glassware. For instance, the measurements that go into a martini vs. a Moscow mule are different, so it takes unique glasses to fill each cocktail to the brim (learn more about what does one part mean).
The bar staff at your local eatery will probably hand you the appropriate glass, but it’s just a tip to be mindful of when hosting a social event. Learn more about creative bar event ideas to inspire your next get-together, too.
What Does Vodka Taste Like?
Vodka doesn’t have a distinct flavor or odor. The overwhelming alcohol content in vodka creates a burning sensation as you take each sip. Many consumers will argue that the liquor has a strong flavor, but it’s most likely a misconception from the burn.
Vodka is an ideal spirit for those who don’t enjoy the flavor of other types of alcohol. The lack of scent also helps maintain the taste of different mixers, as it won’t disrupt the combination of your other cocktail ingredients and their colors.
Since vodka comes in so many delightful flavors, many people claim that vodka is the best alcohol for shots. Let’s explore which brand will be your go-to option.
Top 10 Vodka Brands
Vodka can differ in price and quality. Once you know which makes each brand unique, you’ll know what to request from the bartender and be aware of other options.
Before trying vodka, understand how to calculate ABV, as it usually starts at 40%. Remember that responsible drinking is a necessity no matter which liquor you choose.
Combining zero grams of sugar with a delightful flavor has produced profitable sales for this brand. Absolut’s mission to only use the highest quality ingredients makes an impressive product with a premium taste.
Absolut vodka is a reliable liquor and offers a clean, crisp finish. Its stellar blend and genius marketing campaigns led to the brand being a famous choice on the market.
There’s no doubt that you’ll find an expansive display of Absolut vodka behind every bar and throughout an aisle at your local liquor store. Absolut is distilled three times during production, which leads to a smoother mouthfeel than most vodkas on the market.
Chopin’s mission was to revolutionize the beverage industry. The founders didn’t believe all vodkas were made equal. So, they became innovators within the vodka market and began producing single-ingredient spirits. The fermentation process involves wheat, rye, or potatoes.
Chopin is known explicitly for their potato vodka, one of the most remarkable vodkas you can taste. It’s crisp, buttery-smooth, and a healthier alternative to other vodka styles. Potato vodka only makes up about 3% of vodkas currently on the market, so it’s less common to find on various menu types and in stores.
As a single-ingredient vodka, Chopin delivers simplicity and superior final products. Small batches are produced to perfection, yet each ingredient showcases how unique vodkas can be.
As the popularity of flavored vodkas escalated, Circoc became a seller of many unique flavor options. Each vodka is carefully and masterfully infused with fresh fruits and other natural ingredients to deliver a rich and refreshing taste.
The infusion of premium extracts, organic herbs, and ripe fruits creates bright flavor profiles that consumers can enjoy sipping neat, as a shot, or with other beverages.
During the spring and summer months, Ciroc sells the following flavors:
A few flavors are limited edition and are likely to sell out fast. Ciroc also makes other types of alcohol, such as brandy.
As one of the best-selling vodka brands, Grey Goose is a leader in its category. It was one of the first ultra-premium vodka brands to hit the market and was also one of the first brands ever to introduce flavor options. Since the 1990s, it has been one of many high demand products in the alcoholic beverage industry.
The inspiration for Grey Goose originates from the French cognac producer François Thibault, who was recognized as a Maître de Chai, or Cellar Master.
The more you distill a vodka during production, the smoother it will be. Grey Goose is distilled five times, which results in a crisp, clean finish. The quality of Grey Goose classifies it as a top-shelf liquor and is unsurprisingly a worldwide favorite.
If you’re looking for an authentic vodka brand, try Kohr. As a Ukrainian vodka, Kohr sources local ingredients to create their spirits. It is distilled from corn and is 100% gluten-free.
Kohr uses innovative techniques to distill and filtrate their vodka. The platinum and charcoal filtration systems result in a balanced, soft finish. Due to the mild taste of Kohr vodka, it is a fantastic option to use in mixed drinks.
Kohr has won numerous gold medals and several taste-testing competitions in the United States. According to Drinks International Magazine, Kohr has ranked for five years in a row as one of the top three best-selling vodka brands worldwide.
Each bottle of Pinnacle vodka is distilled five times before it reaches the shelf. The process achieves a clean yet bold finish that is incomparable to others.
Top-quality ingredients are staples when formulating Pinnacle. They consistently produce vodkas that are enjoyable neat, and with mixers. Fortunately, pinnacle won’t hurt your wallet if you enjoy cocktails more than sipping liquor on its own.
Speaking of flavorful mixed drinks, Pinnacle caters to every taste preference by offering over two dozen flavors, including options such as:
- Kiwi Strawberry, for some refreshing summer cocktails.
- Habanero, which could spice up any drink.
- Apricot Honeysuckle, which sounds ideal for spring cocktails.
Cobalt blue bottles line many shelves in liquor stores and bars, as Skyy produces visually unique vodka bottling. Skyy comes in various flavors and is known to be the best vodka brand to pair with soda.
Though vodka has a Western European origin, Skyy is proud of its American roots. The ocean serves as inspiration for Skyy and incorporates water enriched with Pacific minerals from the San Francisco Bay area. The recipe filtrates through California limestone, which tastes as smooth as the sea tide.
If you’re looking for a cost-effective vodka that bursts with flavor, Smirnoff will not disappoint. Smirnoff’s product line offers an impressive selection of flavored vodka and ready-to-drink beverages.
Sweet and fruity drinks are always a delicious option. They’re even more convenient if you’re not super familiar with complex cocktail recipes. Smirnoff makes it easy to decide by offering the following:
- Smirnoff Ice: available in eighteen unique flavors and is a fun choice for various occasions.
- Smirnoff Seltzer: contains zero sugar, no artificial sweeteners, and only ninety calories for one serving.
- Smirnoff Smash: combines two fruits to create a “smashing” blend.
- Smirnoff Sourced: a concoction made with real fruit juice.
Swedish tradition is prevalent in Svedka vodka, as its main ingredient is winter wheat from the nation’s beautiful countryside. Svedka vodka is distilled five times, which offers consumers a clean and refreshing taste.
Svedka is a brand that successfully keeps up with trends. The brand offers a wide variety of flavored vodka. Each flavor corresponds with a color-coded bottle that is sure to brighten up any liquor store, home liquor storage space, or shelf behind a bar.
Svedka was also one of the first liquor brands to introduce hard seltzers. The hard seltzer craze took the food and beverage industry by storm, as it’s a low-calorie and zero carb option that’s refreshing on its own or with a meal.
Tito’s is a popular favorite for its great flavor and low price tag. Due to its low cost and smooth finish, Tito’s is one of the few vodka brands popular as a base liquor in many popular cocktails.
The distillation process makes Tito’s different from other vodka brands. Tito’s uses old-fashioned pot stills, as opposed to traditional column stills. This production method is generally seen within rum and whiskey distilleries.
The main reason it’s chosen is that it promotes its origins as a handmade vodka. Tito’s is an American classic and every bartender’s go-to vodka (see our complete bartender's guide book for more ways to use vodka).
Frequently Asked Questions About Vodka Brands
What Is the Most Famous Vodka Brand?
Grey Goose consistently ranks as one of the most well-known vodka brands of all time. Its production process and French roots create a luxurious product that consumers still flock to after twenty years.
What Is the Smoothest Vodka to Drink Straight?
Chopin’s potato vodka is one of the most enjoyable vodkas to drink neat. Its use of potatoes during the fermentation process creates a well-rounded and earthy flavor profile. The mouthfeel of this vodka is a smooth, creamy consistency.
Is Top-Shelf Vodka Better?
Yes, top-shelf liquor offers the senses a better flavor, aroma, and mouthfeel. The term “top-shelf” means that the liquor is of higher quality than others; therefore, it should be drunk neat or with minimal ingredients. In contrast, a well liquor is a lower-cost brand used as the base for mixers.