5 Must-Have Vodkas for a Well-Stocked Bar
People don't generally write odes to vodka, which is a shame, really. It may not be the kind of flavor-packed liquor that often leads to thoughtful sipping and dedicated worshipping. But just because it isn't full of taste (unless it's one of those terrible flavored vodkas), that doesn't mean it isn't full of possibilities for mixing and shooting. More than that, knowing a thing or two about what makes a good vodka is some very helpful information for the Well-Informed Man, which is certainly something worth aiming for, right?
That's why you need these five vodkas in your well-stocked bar:
Not just a clever name, Russian Standard really is a Russian standard vodka. They've captured 60 percent of the Russian premium vodka market with the velvety smooth flavor of the wheat-based liquor. The recipe is actually based on a formula created by Dmitri Mendeleev, who created the periodic table of the elements. (Yeah, that table.) You aren't going to pay a premium for the premium flavor of this beverage.
Even the environmentally conscious among us like to enjoy a good vodka, which is why you need a bottle of Kazakhstan's Snow Queen vodka for your well-stocked bar. Snow Queen is made from organic wheat with artesian spring water from the Himalayas. It's distilled five times, so it has a smooth and refreshing taste uncommon among vodkas. This could be your sipping vodka, and you can get it for about $20 a bottle.
It's no surprise that the Russians know how to make vodka. They've been perfecting it for centuries. Having a real, high-quality Russian vodka in your bar will show you have an appreciation for the classics. Tovaritch! vodka earned a very rare “Gold Outstanding” rating at the International Wine and Spirit Competition. “Velvety,” “pure,” “neutral” and “perfect refinement” are just a few of the glowing terms used to describe this vodka made from organic grains (we can't tell you which ones because the recipe is a family secret). The name means “comrade,” and for the price, this bottle will be yours.
Tito's Handmade vodka is your mixer go-to. It has the smoothest flavor of the lower-shelf vodkas, it's easy to find, and it has the best taste-to-price ratio you could hope for. Tito's is a corn vodka and is certified gluten-free. It's a small-batch liquor you can get at factory-distilled prices. If you're in a hurry, grab a bottle of Tito's and you'll be all set.
Admittedly, Firestarter is on this list as a conversation-starter for your well-stocked bar. It's a premium, gold-rated vodka, but it's the extinguisher-shaped bottle that'll get the attention. Made in Moldova, this winter wheat vodka is known to be smoothly sweet with a hint of pepper. You may have to hunt for it a bit, but the superior flavor of a centuries-old recipe will be well worth it.
Bonus: Traditional Russian Vodka Shot
To impress your guests, teach them how to take a shot of vodka in a classic, Russian way. You need a proper Russian vodka, sliced pumpernickel bread and pickle spears. Prepare everyone a two-ounce shot (the Russians are serious about this) and deliver it with a bread slice and a pickle spear. First, everyone should take a long sniff of the bread. Then take the shot of vodka, followed by another quick whiff of the bread. Finally, eat the pickle quickly. Russians always take this shot “to your health,” or nah zdrovie: