Essential and Popular Vodka Cocktails

Vodka may be the most mixable and useful liquor in the bar. The spirit's clear, clean taste pairs well with any flavor, from sweet to savory and dry to spicy. Featured in thousands of cocktail recipes that vary in character, ingredients, and style, there is a vodka cocktail for every drinker and occasion.


Within that extensive list of vodka drinks, some standouts are considered essential. These are the most popular of those recipes and the drinks that everyone should taste at least once.


VODKA MARTINI

Vodka-based martinis fill cocktail menus, and there is no shortage of recipes to mix up. Yet, there is only one true vodka martini, and it is unbelievably simple. All you need for this drink is vodka, dry vermouth, and bitters (plus a garnish like a lemon peel, if you'd like), making it nothing more than the classic gin martini with a vodka base. It is crisp, clean, and the best way to show off the top-shelf vodkas in your bar.


COSMOPOLITAN

Vodka is an ideal base for light fruit flavors. No cocktail plays this up as well as the cosmopolitan. It is that pretty-in-pink, fruity cocktail made with vodka, cranberry and lime juices, and a high-end orange liqueur. Affectionately called the "cosmo," you can adapt it to suit your taste. Some prefer it sweet and pour more cranberry, while others like just a splash for color. It's fantastic either way.


APPLE MARTINI

One of the most popular fruit martinis, it's hard to resist the taste of a well-made apple martini. While you may be familiar with the bright green version, there are many variations on this fun cocktail. The recipes range from those that use green apple schnapps to ones with a drier profile, preferring an apple liqueur or brandy and dry vermouth.



BLOODY MARY

Sunday mornings would not be complete without a great bloody Mary. This vodka and tomato juice highball is a favorite for brunch, and it can be customized to fit your exact taste. It is also a popular "hair of the dog" hangover drink.





BLACK RUSSIAN

When you find yourself looking for a refreshing and short vodka drink, the black Russian is a perfect candidate. It requires just two ingredients—vodka and coffee liqueur, plus an optional cherry on top—and mixes up in minutes. Don't worry about splurging on the vodka; a decent and budget-friendly bottle will do just fine.



VODKA TONIC

A simple soda highball offers the ultimate refreshment. The vodka tonic takes top honors in this category. It also makes a perfect dinner companion because the ingredients cleanse the palate between bites.





MOSCOW MULE

The Moscow mule is a simple drink initially designed to introduce Americans to vodka in the mid-20th century. It has had a recent brush with fame as a new generation is discovering the appeal of this snappy cocktail. While many people choose to pour ginger ale, an authentic Moscow mule features the spicier ginger beer.


SCREWDRIVER

Many vodka cocktails are heavy on the fruit, and highballs like the screwdriver are nothing more than spiked fruit juice. From brunch to happy hour, it's great throughout the day. Of course, fresh-squeezed orange juice is preferred and creates a better screwdriver, though it's not a requirement.



CAPE CODDER

You might know it better as a vodka cranberry, but this trendy mixed drink is traditionally called the Cape Codder. It's a satisfying and refreshing mix that is ideal for a quick happy hour. The recipe is quite simple, and the combination of vodka and cranberry juice is sure to please.




MADRAS

Building on the simple "duos" of the screwdriver and cape codder, the madras and similar drinks mix not one, but two fruit juices with vodka. These are known as "trios,"and they're quite tasty. In the madras, you'll pair orange and cranberry juices with vodka. If you want to enhance it with a third fruit, pour a flavored vodka instead; Citrus, raspberry, and cucumber are all excellent choices.


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