Let's face it, a party without vodka cocktails isn't really a party, right? While Poland and Russia are arguing about who invented the cult drink, the classic vodka cocktails have become an integral part of the repertoire of today's bartenders.
When we say vodka cocktail, we mean real classic vodka cocktails and not something like RedBull mixed with vodka, or Long Island Iced Tea (Long Island Iced Tea contains 5 different spirits, so it's not a true vodka cocktail).
In this article, we would like to show you the 6 best classic vodka cocktails that you can make at home with a little practice and the right ingredients. Before we start with the recipes, we want to tell you a bit about the different types of vodka.
The Different Types of Vodka
Let's get one thing straight: not every vodka is classic vodka. There are different kinds, and all of them are unique in taste. Since vodka can be made from a wide variety of ingredients, the base is incredibly important, as it will later affect the taste.
Vodka is not only made from potatoes, as often falsely assumed. You can make vodka from rye, wheat, corn, beets, or sugar beet molasses.
For most people, a vodka is considered being "good vodka" if it has no actual taste (at least this when it comes to classic vodka). A good vodka is neutral and shouldn't stand out too much in a cocktail.
Here is an overview of the different types of vodka.
Vodka Type 1: Classic Vodka
Classic vodka is also called neutral vodka or plain vodka because it has no taste of its own. When making this type of vodka, the aim is to obtain a flavor that is as neutral as possible and, accordingly, to not make it taste too much like alcohol.
The number of distillations or filtrations plays a significant role here. After all, the more often you distill the vodka, the more neutral and smooth its taste becomes.
Vodka Type 2: Craft Vodka
Craft vodka is not the same as classic vodka. The procedure and the aim of making it are different. With craft vodka, you try to elevate the taste of the vodka a bit by using different ingredients. Craft Vodka is made in small batches to enhance what makes it distinct.
Vodka Type 3: Spiced Vodka
Spiced vodka is flavored, just like craft vodka.
The difference between the two is that when making spiced vodka, the taste is added artificially. In contrast, craft vodka gets its flavor from the ingredients that are used for distillation and production.
6 Best Classic Vodka Cocktails
First things first: for each of the classic vodka cocktails in this article, we suggest, obviously, classic vodka. Well known producers are: Smirnoff, Absolut, or Tito's (if you like your vodka made in the US).
In general, we strongly advise against buying vodka for less than $10.00 a bottle. The quality of the vodka distillation process is reflected in the end price of it. The most expensive vodka doesn't always have to be the best, that's true, but it turns out that many vodkas below this price are lower quality.
You can make the following 6 drinks easily at home.
Classic Vodka Cocktail 1: Bloody Mary
The different components, such as vegetables, salt, and alcohol, make the Bloody Mary an ideal companion after a long party night. This makes the Bloody Mary, one of the best cocktails against hangover.
Regardless, this drink has truly earned its place in the list of the best classic cocktails.
The Bloody Mary is very versatile as, there is no right or wrong when it comes to its ingredients. That's also one of the reasons there are so many different recipes. In this article, we'll show you the most basic one, which you can use as a starting point for further experiments.
This doesn't look any different when it comes to decorating. In essence, a Bloody Mary is most often served with olives, vegetables (a stalk of celery is most popular) and lemons, but some put bacon or shrimp in it so you can serve it with basically anything that comes to your mind.
You need the following ingredients for a Bloody Mary:
- 4 oz tomato juice
- 2 oz classic vodka
- 2 tablespoon horseradish (prepared)
- 1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 pinch of celery salt
- 1 pinch of black pepper
The Bloody Mary is relatively easy to make. Just put all ingredients in a shaker and give it a good shake. Then pour into a glass (this cocktail is usually served in a highball, pint, or hurricane glass) and decorate the glass with lemon slices, olives, or an edible decoration of your choice.
Classic Vodka Cocktail 2: Moscow Mule
The second classic vodka cocktail is the Moscow Mule. Typically prepared in a copper mug, this drink is a real eye-catcher at parties and also is very delicious.
A Moscow Mule is super easy to make. You don't even need a cocktail shaker.
You need the following ingredients for a Moscow Mule:
- 2 oz classic vodka
- 6 oz ginger beer
- ½ lime
First, pour 2 oz classic vodka straight into the copper mug. Add ice and fill the mug about halfway with it. Then add the ginger beer. It's essential that you buy ginger beer and not ginger ale. Ginger beer, unlike ginger ale, is fermented and therefore has a stronger taste.
Add ice again and cut half a lime into 3-4 equal parts. Then squeeze these into the mug. Finally, stir gently and decorate with a slice of lime. You can also add a few mint leaves.
The copper mug gives the drink a better taste because the mug takes on the temperature of the cocktail over time and therefore stays cool.
Classic Vodka Cocktail 3: White Russian
The White Russian is another classic vodka cocktail that you can easily mix yourself. You need three different components: classic vodka, Kahlua, and cream.
If you don't have Kahlua at hand, you can use any other coffee liqueur. Just try out what you like best. Typically, the White Russian is served in an old fashioned glass.
This cocktail is not to be confused with the Black Russian. Although it's similar in its preparation, the Black Russian is made without cream. If you like the taste of Kahlua, check out our Black Russian brownies.
You need the following ingredients for a White Russian:
- 2 oz classic vodka
- 2 oz Kahlua
- 2 oz cream
The first step is to pour the vodka directly into the glass. Add Kahlua and pour a little ice into the glass. Finally, you pour the cream over the ice.
Again, there's no right and wrong when it comes to cocktails. You can mix everything directly in the glass and stir, or you can use a cocktail shaker to give it a good shake, making it foamy. Just try out whatever appeals to you.
Classic Vodka Cocktail 4: Salty Dog
The Salty Dog is a very unusual cocktail that can be made with both vodka and gin. It combines the sweetish-bitter taste of grapefruit with sea salt.
Many people use lemon vodka instead of classic vodka to give it a little more punch.
You need the following ingredients for a Salty Dog:
- 1.5 oz classic vodka
- 3 oz grapefruit juice
- 1 lemon slice
- 1 pinch of sea salt
You can either shake this cocktail or mix it directly in the glass.
First, put the vodka and the grapefruit juice into a cocktail shaker. Add some ice to the shaker and mix.
Take a slice of lemon and rub the edge of the glass with it. Then lightly rim it with sea salt. The juice of the lemon slice will make the salt stick better onto the glass. Now pour the drink from the shaker into it.
You can also rub the glass with a slice of grapefruit instead of a lemon. We found grapefruit with grapefruit a bit too monotone, though, so we went with the lemon slice.
Classic Vodka Cocktail 5: Screwdriver
The fifth of our vodka cocktail classics is the Screwdriver. It's one of the most basic cocktails you can find. Made in just a few minutes, it's the ideal cocktail morning or night.
The ingredients are also straightforward to find. Most of us have orange juice at home, so you don't even have to go grocery shopping.
You need the following ingredients for a Screwdriver:
- 1.5 oz classic vodka
- 4.5 oz orange juice
You need a tall drink glass for the Screwdriver.
Put in the ice, followed by vodka and orange juice. You can stir it a little bit and decorate it with an orange slice. This cocktail is not shaken and is served directly in the glass.
Classic Vodka Cocktail 6: Cosmopolitan
We simply can't have a best of vodka cocktails without the Cosmopolitan. Commonly known as Cosmo, this drink is probably one of the most popular cocktails ever made with vodka.
Although it is served in a martini glass, it has absolutely nothing to do with a martini.
You need the following ingredients for a Cosmopolitan:
- 1.5 oz classic vodka
- 0.5 oz Cointreau (orange liqueur)
- ⅓ oz lime juice
- 1.5 oz cranberry juice
Pour the vodka, Cointreau, lime juice, and cranberry juice with ice into the cocktail shaker. Mix everything in it for a few seconds, strain it as you pour and serve it in a Martini Glass.
Be careful when you measure the cranberry juice. The drink should have a lovely pink color at the end. If it's too light, you added too little, if it is too dark, then you’ve used too much cranberry juice.
Those were our six best classic vodka cocktails.
When mixing cocktails, there is no such thing as one right recipe. That's what makes cocktail mixing so exciting. Different measurements,, types of vodka, shaken, or stirred: use each of our recipes as a base for your own vodka cocktail experiments.
At the end of the day, it's important that you adjust the cocktail recipe to suit your own taste.
Do you have questions on how to make cocktails? Did we forget your favorite vodka cocktail? Let us know in the comments, and thank you for reading.