Ever been at a party where a new acquaintance asks you to make them a drink? PANIC MODE.
Fortunately, when you don’t know what’s on hand and you don’t know what they like, vodka is your best friend.
Vodka can easily compliment the flavor of just about anything, and it’s easy to tone down. Don't get us wrong — vodka has flavor. And the vodka you use in drinks matters. But when making a mixed drink, vodka can very easily complement the flavor of almost anything and satisfy the pickiest palate.
So if you find yourself picking through someone’s pantry in an effort to cobble a drink together, here’s what to look for.
- Something fizzy. Everyone likes a little fizz. Clear sodas or sparkling mineral waters make a great base.
- Something sweet. You’ll need sugar to give the drink a good mouthfeel. If you find a good sweetened soda, you’ve killed two birds with one stone. If your soda isn’t sweet, you can make a simple syrup by mixing equal parts sugar and water in a jar and shaking it vigorously. You could also use agave nectar, maple syrup, or corn syrup. Just a bit! You don’t want your drink to be cloying.
- Citrus. A little acid and a little citrus add depth of flavor to any drink. Lemon, lime, or orange all do the trick. You can also get fancy with more exotic citrus like kumquat or blood orange. And you can use a very small splash of vinegar for acidity. Balsamic can make a good substitute for sweet vermouth, and white wine vinegar can sub for dry vermouth.
- Add the extras. Herbs, fruit, milk, tea, chocolate — all of these and many more can be added to vodka to make a great drink.
Vodka is your versatile friend. Don't be afraid to be creative with it! At the end of the day, there is still alcohol in the drink. Who is going to turn that down?
THE BELOW VODKA RECIPES HAVE A FEW THINGS IN COMMON.
They are easy.
They focus on a few high-quality ingredients.
They can be changed up easily to work with what you have on hand.
In a Collins glass, add ice, 2 oz vodka, and 3 oz lemonade. Garnish with fresh cucumber slices and lemon wedges for a refreshing summer drink.
Variations: Add cilantro, mint, basil, or rosemary for herby-ness.
2 oz vodka
3 oz lemonade
Roman Happy Hour
Pour vodka and olive juice into a cocktail shaker and add ice cubes. If you like a very cold martini, shake the dickens out of it. If you prefer a stronger martini, stir the mixture delicately with a stir spoon to prevent chipping the ice. Strain into a chilled martini glass with three olives.
3 oz vodka
1/2 oz olive juice
Many a vodka gimlet has been made with bottled lime mixers that are more sugar than juice. A gimlet with fresh lime is a whole different beast.
Add 2 oz vodka, 1 oz fresh-squeezed lime juice, and ¾ oz simple syrup to a cocktail shaker. Fill the shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a lime wedge.
2 oz vodka
1 oz lime Juice
3/4 oz simple syrup
Many people think gin isn’t a good mixer. They are wrong.
We’ve already talked about the versatility of vodka. Gin is just as versatile, but with the added benefit that the flavor doesn’t get lost in the drink. It’s important to remember that when cocktails were invented, it was gin that was at the base. Gin is at the very foundation of cocktail culture.Read more hidden text
Many people think they don’t like gin because they’ve just had bad gin. A good gin has a balance of botanicals, but many bad gins taste overwhelmingly of juniper or clove. If you think you don’t like gin, we strongly encourage you to give it another chance.
Gin pairs well with citrus or fall flavors like apple and thyme.
The Gin and Tonic is without a doubt the most popular gin drink. It is the classic cocktail and goes well on its own or with food. Make sure to get a good tonic to go with your gin. When you find the combo you like, there’s nothing more refreshing.
A classic gin cocktail.
Combine all ingredients in a shaker. Add ice and shake. Strain into a chilled stemmed glass. Garnish with mint.
2 ounces gin
1 oz lime juice
3/4 ounce simple syrup
1 sprig mint
This is a Tweaked favorite.
Combine all ingredients except apples in a shaker. Add ice and shake.
Fill a glass with ice and strain shaker into glass. Garnish with apples and thyme.
2 oz Gin
2 oz Apple Juice or Cider
1 oz Simple
Sprig of Thyme
Match stick apple slices (optional)
This summertime favorite is a little more complicated than some of our other recipes, but it's worth it.
1 cup cubed seedless watermelon or seeds removed, blended and strained
2 mint leaves
1 tsp simple syrup or to taste
Muddle lemon and mint in a cocktail shaker. Add gin, watermelon juice, and simple syrup. Add ice and shake.
Strain into a glass. Garnish with watermelon wedge and mint leaves.