The trend over the last few years in the cocktail elite is to abhor vodka and revile the artificially flavored kool-aid type vodkas. I understand this position…mostly. Unfortunately for the cocktail gods, people buy a lot of vodka, drink a lot of vodka, and support a huge vodka industry. Look at any liquor store shelf or behind most bars and you will see lots and lots of vodka.
Vodka is generally colorless and flavorless, and while there are small but noticeable differences in flavor notes and mouth-feel, lets face it, most people who drink vodka are not looking for boozy flavors. Rather, they seek an unobtrusive and easily flavored drink that gets the job done. Vodka has its place on the shelf and in the market, to be sure. I keep some vodka, for recipes and for guests and have no reason to hate or love it.
Vodka fans however are overspending on labels and hype. “Premium” vodka is a lie.
Vodka should be the cheapest bottle on the shelf because it is the cheapest to produce. No costly aging is done. No expensive oak barrels are purchased and minimal rare ingredients are required. Yet fifty and hundred-dollar bottles of vodka are commonplace.
I keep it in the house and use it in recipes, however about ten bucks is my price point per bottle. Spending more would give fuel to this trend and be a waste of my money. The internet abounds with myths about filtering vodka at home or such things as “good” vodka. Read and believe what you will, but I contend that the stuff I buy at (you guessed it!) Trader Joe’s is as good as anything out there at only a fraction of the price.
I recommend Volganaya for your friends who like a vodka-tini and Monopolowa for everything else. Both are available at Trader Joe”s and are quality products at a fair prices.
In our house we say “Halloween is coming.” I love Halloween and making spooky and delicious cocktails. For this sacred purpose I shell out a little more and find a bottle or two of BLAVOD black vodka. The naturally-derived black coloring looks cool and some of my vodka drinking friends actually prefer it to other vodkas. Rumor has it that Eva Halloween always has some for the ghouls and for parties. In the same vein, Crystal Skull Vodka’s really cool bottle just might be worth the price. I love that damn bottle.