If whiskey is the heart of American spirits, then vodka is the backbone. Vodka is the leading spirit for all types of drinkers, embedding itself in the fabric of our culture, from the Cosmopolitans made popular by Carrie Bradshaw to Bond’s “shaken, not stirred” mantra that has flummoxed bartenders for decades.While many of us are used to vodkas flavored with other ingredients, there are producers who are making incredible versions of vodka that taste delicious neat or over an ice cube. These examples are perfect for gifting (to others or yourself) and make beautiful additions to any home bar or bar cart.
The Community Spirit Vodka is a newcomer to craft spirits, but they are making a splash with their dedication to philanthropy and giving back to the community. The vodka is crafted by the award-winning Casa Lumbre team, who took corn vodka and filtered it with coconut carbon. The result is a velvety vodka that mixes well with a vodka soda or an espresso martini.
Crystal Head has been at the top of my list all year, and for good reason! Their commitment to pure vodka that tastes great when served neat is evident in every expression they release. My current go-to is Onyx, which flips the industry on its head as it uses agave as the base for the spirit. The iconic Crystal Head skull is crafted out of black onyx for this expression, creating a powerful statement on any home bar. I love crafting both Palomas and classic Martinis with an orange peel twist with this standout vodka.
Loft & Bear is one of the distilleries in Los Angeles that have made waves in the craft and artisanal spirits scene by crafting a smooth yet richly full-bodied vodka. It’s quickly become one of the bottles I reach for the most when making any vodka-forward drink, and its vanilla creaminess with light herbal notes also lends itself to more complex cocktails. This vodka is not one to miss!
Because the world-famous Nikka is known primarily for its single malts, their vodka is often overlooked. This is a mistake that should be corrected immediately if you haven’t already tried their vodka. Unlike most vodkas, this one is a blend of corn-based and barely-based vodkas. By distilling them separately, they are able to perfectly blend the vodka to a velvety soft mouthfeel that has notes of sweet citrus on the palate. This is the perfect vodka to give to those filled with wanderlust, the single malt lover who wants to dry clear distillates, or the vodka drinker who wants to try a unique vodka.
Developed as a sipping vodka, FOU-DRÉ has come onto the market as one of the most striking bottles of vodka you’ll ever own. This vodka is infused with lime, pomegranate, lychee, ginger, and kiwi. If you are like me and typically stay away from flavored vodkas, then let me tell you that this infusion process lends itself to a beautifully light and refreshing vodka that is delicious on its own but not too overpowering for any mixology. Don’t take my word for it: FOU-DRÉ has won numerous awards since they launched in 2012.
This may be a controversial pick for some, but I am a firm believer in non-alcoholic spirits. I can’t tell you how much I wish we had brands like CleanCo back in my bartending days. Keeping a non-alcoholic spirit on hand allows you to play without the hangover and also makes you the best friend to anyone who is practicing sobriety, even just for a night. We recently hosted CleanCo on a Virtual Tasting, and the cocktail we made with Clean V is now my go-to for cider cocktails. The apple and cinnamon notes in the Clean V truly amp up the cozy factor for your ciders and martinis. As a note, most non-alcoholic spirits are crafted to be mixed, so I do not recommend drinking them neat.We hope you can find a vodka that you love in whatever style you serve it in. Need recipe inspiration? Check out mouthwatering recipes in our Vodka Cocktail Collection.