10 Essential and Popular Vodka Cocktails

Whether you are just starting to mix your own cocktails or have put in years behind the bar, there are a few cocktails that you really need to know. When it comes to vodka, these ten recipes are among the most popular because, quite simply, they are also the best.

Why You Need to Know These Vodka Cocktails

There is no debate that vodka is the most mixable (and therefore useful) liquor in the bar. Vodka's clear, clean taste pairs well with any flavor, from sweet to savory and dry to spicy. It...MORE is used in thousands of cocktail recipes that vary greatly in flavor, ingredients, and style, so there really is a vodka cocktail for everyone.

Within that extensive list of vodka drinks, there are some standouts that are considered essential. Ten of those recipes are included here and they are the drinks that everyone should taste at least once. Even if you don't like it, you can at least say that you've had it, then use that experience to sway your drinking decisions in the future.

They are also the foundation for other recipes, so this list is a great place to begin.

  • 01 of 10
    Vodka martini
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    Vodka-based martinis fill modern cocktail menus and there is certainly not a shortage of recipes to mix up. Yet, there is only one true Vodka Martini and it is unbelievably simple.

    What You Need: vodka, dry vermouth, bitters

    This is, essentially, the classic Gin Martini with a vodka base. It is crisp, clean, and the best way to show off those top-shelf vodkas in your bar.

    The vodka-vermouth combination is used in a variety of cocktails and, quite often, you only need to add a single ingredient.  If...MORE you find that you do enjoy the Vodka Martini, try one of these next.

  • 02 of 10
    Cosmopolitan cocktail
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    Vodka is an ideal base for light fruit flavors and no cocktail plays this up as well as the Cosmopolitan. It is that pretty-in-pink fruity cocktail made famous in "Sex and the City" and you'll love it.

    What You Need: clear or citrus vodka, Cointreau, lime juice, cranberry juice

    Affectionately called the 'Cosmo,' you can make this cocktail to suit your own taste. Some people prefer it sweet and pour more cranberry, while others prefer just a splash for color. It's fantastic...MORE either way.

    Apple, pineapple, melon, kiwi and almost any other fruit can be used to shake up a similar cocktail. These fruity 'up' drinks occupy the majority of the space on today's cocktail menus.

    • Apple Martini: Use apple schnapps or try one of the other variations on this martini
    • Flirtini: This fruity martini brings pineapple, orange liqueur, and champagne to the party
    • Kiwi Martini: Adds fresh kiwi juice
  • 03 of 10
    Bloody Mary Cocktail
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    Sunday mornings would not be complete without a great Bloody Mary. This vodka and tomato juice highball is a favorite for brunch and it can be customized to fit your exact taste.

    What You Need: vodka, tomato juice, lemon juice, Worcestershire and hot sauces, spices

    People love this drink for many reasons and it is one of the most popular savory drinks you will find. It is also known for its hangover-fighting properties, so it's useful as well.

    The Bloody Mary has been remade many times over the...MORE years and many Bloody Mary lovers have their own 'secret' recipe. If you need a bit of inspiration for creating your own, look no further.

  • 04 of 10
    Easy and Popular Black Russian Vodka Cocktail Recipe
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    Should you find yourself looking for a refreshing and short vodka drink, the Black Russian is a perfect candidate. It requires just two ingredients and mixes up in minutes, and you have to love that.

    What You Need: vodka, coffee liqueur

    Kahlua is often the coffee liqueur of choice though you do have other options and this is the perfect drink to try those out. Also, don't worry about splurging on the vodka, a decent and budget-friendly bottle will do just fine here.

    Cheap and easy? Sounds like...MORE the ideal happy hour drink, now doesn't it? It is and it has inspired a number of other vodka low balls over the years.

    • Colorado Bulldog: Cola is added to the traditional Black Russian in this recipe
    • Mudslide: This recipe mixes vodka, coffee liqueur, and Irish cream liqueur
    • Smith & Wesson: Add coffee liqueur or creme de cacao and cream with vodka for this drink
    • Toasted Almond: Liven things up with some amaretto
    • White Russian: Add a little cream to your Black Russian
    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10
    Tonic cocktail
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    If you are in the mood for a vodka drink that is the ultimate in refreshment, then it's time to try a simple soda highball. The Vodka Tonic takes top honors as the best-of-the-best in this category.

    What You Need: vodka, lime juice, tonic water

    Unlike other sodas, tonic water is not sweet and it will not leave your taste buds craving more sugar. This is perfect for dieters and drinkers who want a lightly alcoholic beverage that is truly refreshing. It also makes a perfect meal companion...MORE because it cleanses your palate.

    Vodka works best with clear soda waters and any of these simple highballs can be quickly enhanced with your favorite flavored vodka. If tonic is not your thing, simply try a different soda.​

  • 06 of 10
    Moscow mule
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    The Moscow Mule was a simple drink designed to introduce Americans to vodka in the mid-20th century. It has had a recent brush with fame as a new generation is discovering the appeal of this snappy cocktail.

    What You Need: vodka, lime juice, ginger beer

    That's right, ginger beer and not ginger ale. The true Moscow Mule features the spicier ginger soda and if your bartender has been serving you a mule of the ginger ale variety, it's time that you get a taste of the real thing. Bonus points...MORE if it's served in a copper mug.

    This mixed drink is as easy as any of the other vodka highballs and its popularity has led to a number of new recipes. They are all quite fun and a great pick-me-up after a long day.

  • 07 of 10
    Screwdriver cocktail
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    And now we turn to the vodka drinks that are heavy on the fruit. In reality, the Screwdriver and the rest of these can be thought of as spiked fruit juice because that is all they are: vodka and juice.

    What You Need: vodka, orange juice

    The Screwdriver is the most popular and it is great throughout the day, from brunch to happy hour. Of course, fresh-squeezed orange juice is preferred and creates a better Screwdriver though it's not a requirement.

    Two-ingredient fruit highballs are plentiful in...MORE the world of vodka and these drinks are just as popular as the Screwdriver. Whether you're in the mood for cranberry or grapefruit or would like to enhance your Screwdriver, there is a simple mixed drink waiting.

  • 08 of 10
    Easy Madras Vodka Cocktail Recipe
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    Building on the Screwdriver, the next set of drinks mix not one, but two fruit juices with vodka. The Madras is a favorite among those. 

    What You Need: vodka, orange juice, cranberry juice

    The Madras is a very easy drink to mix and the orange-cranberry combination is irresistible at times. If you want to enhance it with a third fruit, pour a flavored vodka instead (citrus, raspberry, and cucumber are good choices).

    Along the same lines, you can add and subtract juices to create a brand new drink....MORE Here are a few favorites from the vodka fruit punch line-up.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10
    Lemon Drop Martini
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    Vodka is the perfect spirit for creating sweet martinis and the Lemon Drop Martini is one of the best examples. It is easy and has a semi-sweet, semi-tart flavor that is sure to wake up your taste buds.

    What You Need: vodka, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup

    The key to making a great Lemon Drop Martini is to find a perfect balance between sweet and sour and everyone will have a slightly different idea of what that is. When you do find it, this is a fantastic cocktail.

    The list of sweet martinis is...MORE extensive and some (including those below) are more popular than others. One thing to keep in mind is that these drinks have been recreated many times and you will find multiple recipes for each. If you don't like one recipe, there is sure to be one out there that is more your style.

  • 10 of 10
    Classic Campari Cocktail Recipe
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    We have discussed dry, sweet, tall, short, and fruity. Now is the time to get adventurous and try vodka in a bitter cocktail.  The Campari Cocktail is another simple mix and it is the drink's namesake that brings it into an entirely new flavor profile.

    What You Need: vodka, Campari, bitters

    Campari is a well-known bitter aperitif that takes some getting used to. This cocktail is very transparent and allows that bitter element to take center stage.

    While there is no guarantee that everyone will...MORE love this drink (in fact most won't at first), I do think it's essential. Not only does it display vodka's mixability, but you also get a taste of Campari in one of its purest forms.

    If this cocktail is too much for you, try easing into the taste of Campari with one of these drinks.

    • Campari Cosmo: Uses citrus vodka, campari, triple sec, and orange juice
    • Red Carpet: Pomegranate is the star of this cocktail