Happy National Vodka Day! It’s time to honor one of the most versatile spirits around, one that continues to be saddled with an ill-fitting definition and odd myths. It has also been duking it out with whiskey the past couple of years (stop picking on it, whiskey lovers – respect the classics).
The great thing about myths is that it gives you and your staff the opportunity to educate your guests while they enjoy a cocktail or two featuring the spirit, liqueur, beer or wine they’re enjoying at your bar. For instance, your guests may not know that some sources used to define vodka as “odorless” and “tasteless.” Those of us in the industry know this to be untrue, yet this incorrect definition still appears to be going strong.
Another myth is that vodka is made from distilled potatoes. Sure, there are potato vodkas out there, but there are also vodkas on the market made from grapes, and many vodkas are made from grains (such as wheat).
This leads us to another myth: All vodka is the same. Don’t say that around The Modern Mixologist, Toby Abou-Ganim, author of Vodka Distilled. Much like ‘90s rappers, the East and West have very different approaches to vodka distillation. You’ll also find that vodka can definitely display terroir, or the combination of environmental elements that influence a product.
Finally, you’ll probably encounter a few guests who will tell your bartenders that the more times vodka is distilled, the better. These people will also likely claim that running a bottom shelf vodka through a water filtration system will turn it into top shelf vodka. Um, no. Neither is true. Distill or filter vodka too much and you can lose its aromas and flavors.
Of course, nobody likes a know-it-all, so maybe don’t unload a ton of trivia on guests just looking to enjoy a vodka-based cocktail. Speaking of which…check out some of our favorite vodka cocktails below.
Opt to make the Rangoon Gimlet with vodka rather than gin for a refreshing cocktail.
Lightning on My Feet is an elegant cocktail when served in a flute.
The Silver Lining made with Drambuie and Reyka Vodka looks fantastic serve in a Mule mug.
Serve the Smithworks Sweet Tea in a Mason jar to make an impression.
Smirnoff Peppermint Hot Chocolate is perfect for guests looking forward to cold weather.
The Ketel One Bloody Mary is a true classic.
The Reyka Roots Collins calls for a housemade sassafras and sarsaparilla syrup that's sure to please.
Pay homage to The Dude and welcome the fall with the Pumpkin Spiced Lebowski.
Halloween fans will be impressed by the ghoulish Black Lagoon.
Cruel Intestines is an impactful Halloween cocktail.
Blood-Red Sangria is features a homemade Sangria simple syrup.
Wicked Witch Apple Punch is perfect for serving in pitchers to groups of guests who can’t wait for Halloween.