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The world of flavored vodkas is expansive. From tried-and-true flavors of citrus and vanilla to cherry, ginger, and spicy vodkas, plus those sweet whipped cream vodkas, there is a lot of fun to be found in vodka. They’re an easy way to add a hint of flavor to your favorite vodka cocktails, and with such diversity, there’s little chance that you’ll get bored exploring the delicious options.
Many of the best-known vodka brands offer a range of flavors to choose from, and some excel at a particular flavor. Just like regular vodka, premium vodkas will produce better-tasting drinks, though there are some impressive budget-friendly flavored vodkas available, too.
Here are the best flavored vodkas to enjoy.
Best Overall: Van Gogh Flavored Vodka
Wide distribution and readily available
Natural flavor infusion
Variety of flavors available
As a premium brand, it is not inexpensive
From espresso to Dutch chocolate and pomegranate to peach, Van Gogh’s vodka portfolio can cover nearly all of your flavored vodka needs. The premium Dutch vodka maker uses a blend of European wheat to produce the smooth-tasting, semi-sweet base that’s used in all of its vodkas. The flavors are naturally infused into the vodka, and they’re all bottled at 35 percent alcohol by volume (ABV, 70 proof).
There are many tasty highlights to Van Gogh’s flavored vodka lineup. You’ll find colorful options like the deep purple of açai-blueberry and a crimson pomegranate, which is among the best of its flavor. Its espresso vodkas add a caffeinated kick to cocktails, while the chocolate and caramel vodkas are ideal for dessert drinks. Van Gogh also covers most fruits, from peach to melon and apple to pineapple, along with a few citrus options and a delicious vanilla. No matter the flavor, when you see this label, you can be assured that the vodka is top-shelf, full of flavor, and smooth as can be.
Best Citrus: Ketel One Citroen Vodka
Premium vodka base for a smooth taste
Fresh blend of citrus fruit flavor
Versatile for nearly any vodka cocktail
Premium price tag
Citrus was one of the first flavored vodkas to hit the market and it remains the most popular and useful. You can pour a shot into almost any fruity vodka cocktail for a burst of flavor, and some—including the famous cosmopolitan—are fantastic with either plain or citrus vodka. While there are lemon, lime, and orange vodkas, “citrus” is often a blend of citrus fruits.
This is also the one flavor that nearly every vodka company produces, so there are countless options. When you’re looking for the best of the best for citrus vodka, turn to Ketel One Citroen. This Dutch distillery focuses on citrus, offering only Citroen and Oranje for flavored vodkas at a full-flavored 80 proof. Backed by the ultra-smooth premium wheat vodka, Citroen is infused with the essence of four lemon and two lime varieties. The flavor is fresh, snappy, and enjoyable on its own when chilled or when mixed into any cocktail.
Best Vanilla: Absolut Vanilia Vodka
Wide distribution and easy to find
Versatile mixer, from fruity to indulgent
Vanilla vodka has a history and usefulness that rivals the citrus-flavored spirit. It was among the original flavored vodkas and has found a home in cocktails for several decades. You can mix it into fruity drinks like the pornstar martini or add it to comforting concoctions with coffee and cream or chocolate and other indulgent mixers.
Due to its long-standing use in the bar, your vanilla vodka options are numerous as well. Despite all the competition, Absolut Vanilia remains at the top of the list. A leader in vodka for a very long time, this is Absolut’s stand-out flavor, offering the naturally sweet taste of vanilla beans against its Swedish-distilled vodka. It’s also one you can trust: All of Absolut’s flavors are made with natural ingredients, bottled at 80 proof, and do not contain added sugar.
Best Sweet: Smirnoff Whipped Cream Vodka
Excellent in sweet dessert drinks
Easy to find from reputable brand
Kosher and gluten-free
Lacks nutrition info
Starting around 2010, sweet vodkas were all the rage for a few years. While the more ridiculous options designed to taste like every dessert and sweet treat imaginable have been pulled from the market, whipped cream and cake vodkas have found a home in cocktails. Only a few brands still have these options, and the best left standing is Smirnoff Whipped Cream Vodka.
This confectionary-flavored vodka is sweet but it’s not as cloying as many of its competitors. The whipped cream flavor is balanced and light enough to mix well with sodas and berries, and it’s an excellent way to quickly spike your coffee. Smirnoff doesn’t reveal its ingredients except that the vodka is “infused with natural flavors,” though it is Kosher and gluten-free. It is just 30 percent ABV (60 proof) and, considering the flavor, it likely has a good deal of sugar. However, if you enjoy it in cocktails like the whipped sunset for the indulgent vodka that it was designed to be, it’s fabulously fun.
Best Spicy: Stolichnaya Stoli Hot Jalapeño Flavored Vodka
Nicely balanced flavor; spicy but not too hot
Can be difficult to find
Some like it hot, and pepper-infused vodkas are perfect for drinkers who love to explore spicy cocktails. It’s a tricky endeavor because the infusion has to be timed just right; leave peppers in too long and you have a vodka that is undrinkable. Stolichnaya Vodka hit that sweet spot in Stoli Hot.
This 37.5 percent ABV (75 proof) jalapeño-flavored vodka is nicely flavored. It has that amount of heat you should expect, but it’s not over the top and won’t leave your mouth on fire. The burn is perfect, and this Russian vodka brand is reasonably priced, so you won’t spend much to give it a try. Pour it into a bloody Mary, or give it a shot in pineapple or mango cocktails for an extra kick.
Best Coconut: Ciroc Coconut Vodka
Produced by ultra-premium vodka brand
Smooth with balanced tropical taste
High price for flavored vodka
There’s a two-sided appeal to coconut vodka. First, it’s a natural choice for tropical drinks, pairing perfectly with pineapple for piña colada-like cocktails such as the coco light martini. Then, it’s similar to vanilla vodka and nearly as versatile if you’re willing to explore its full potential in flavor pairings. Though not numerous, there is some stiff competition for the best coconut vodka, but by most accounts the title should go to Cîroc Vodka.
The French vodka is distilled from grapes, which makes it a fantastic foundation for the sweet taste of coconut. It has the elegance of a fine wine, and it might be its additional “tropical flavors'' that really make it stand out. Whatever the reason, as one of Cîroc’s first forays into flavored vodka years ago, the 70-proof coconut vodka has serious staying power, and makes an excellent addition to any bar.
Best Coffee: Three Olives Triple Shot Espresso Vodka
Rich Arabica coffee bean taste
Can be difficult to find
When you can’t decide whether it’s time for coffee or cocktails, vodka is here to help you out. Emerging with the array of crazy flavors that stormed the market in the 2010s, espresso vodka quickly grabbed the attention of coffee drinkers. Because a single shot of espresso is never enough, Three Olives offers a triple shot espresso vodka that's sure to hit the spot.
Made from English vodka, the 35 percent ABV (70 proof) vodka is infused with Italian espresso and has a rich taste that lives up to its deep brown color. With hints of dark chocolate and vanilla, the flavor is nothing short of delicious. It’s ideal for an espresso martini or any time you want the ultimate after-dinner cocktail.
Best Cherry: Effen Black Cherry Vodka
Sweetened with vanilla rather than sugar
Expensive for a flavored vodka
Cherry is the trickiest flavored vodka. Too often, when the fruit flavoring and alcohol meet, it comes out tasting like cough syrup, which is the last thing you want in your cocktails. Typically, this occurs with cheap vodkas that use artificial flavorings. If you want a cherry vodka that you can actually drink, it is vital that you pay up for a top-shelf brand.
Effen Black Cherry is one that will not let you down. A Dutch vodka company, the base liquor is distilled from French wheat and naturally flavored with black cherries. To marry the fruit and alcohol, vanilla (rather than sugar) is added for a hint of sweetness. The result is a cherry vodka that will impress anyone and is perfect for cocktails like the cherry lane.
Best Ginger: Belvedere Ginger Zest Vodka
May be difficult to find in some markets
Ginger vodka has a snappy spice, often with a hint of sweetness, and it can be used to create some very interesting cocktails. It is not the most popular flavor, so only a few companies produce it, and many ginger vodkas do not last long on the market. One mainstay that beats the competition in flavor is Belvedere Ginger Zest Vodka.
The premium Polish vodka is distilled from rye and noted for its exceptional smoothness. For this flavor, Chinese ginger, Spanish lemon, and South African grapefruit are infused into the vodka. In Poland, vodka can contain no additives, and Belvedere holds true to that in this 40-proof ginger vodka. It is crisp, clean, and perfectly flavored.
Best Berry: New Amsterdam Red Berry Vodka
Tasty mix of vodkas
Availability may be limited
Raspberry, blueberry, strawberry—there are numerous flavored vodkas that can fall into this category. Many can be used interchangeably in cocktails—though, like cherry, blueberry is slightly more finicky—and are popular flavors among vodka brands. It’s not unusual for one company to offer a few berry vodkas. For a versatile pick that can work in many drinks, New Amsterdam Red Berry Vodka is a great choice.
Bottled at 35 percent ABV (70 proof), this California vodka is distilled from Midwest grains. The red berry vodka is flavored with raspberries, blackberries, boysenberries, and strawberries for a well-rounded fruity mix. What is most impressive is the price; New Amsterdam is one of the best value vodka brands available today. It doesn't sacrifice taste just to sell its vodka at a lower price, and many vodka drinkers have found the flavors surprisingly impressive.
The flavored vodka market is so vast that it really is difficult to narrow it down to a few selections. Any of the brands mentioned have a nice range of flavors in their portfolio, and most are very nice. For the most well-rounded lineup, Van Gogh Vodka (view at Total Wine) has nearly every option you would need for cocktails, while Ketel One Citroen (view at Drizly) and Absolut Vanilia (view at Drizly) are the best in their flavors.
What to Look for in Flavored Vodka
As with any vodka buying choice, you get what you pay for in flavored vodkas. Generally, premium vodkas will produce better-tasting flavors, though some less-expensive brands will surprise you as well.
The unflavored vodka is the base for all of a brand’s infusions, so you want to select something that you enjoy before venturing into a brand's flavors. When it comes to specific flavors, it's all about preference, but considering the cocktails you want to make can help you with your experimentation. Most importantly, don’t get stuck in a one-brand rut; explore your options and have fun on the journey.
Regular vodka is naturally sugar free, but flavored vodka may include sugar. Top-shelf brands tend to reveal the product’s ingredients and nutrition, but not all brands indicate the sugar content, so if you want to make sure you don't get a vodka with sugar added, pick one that specifies "sugar-free" on the label. Keep in mind that many budget vodkas and those that specialize in sweet or unusual flavors include sugar. Colored vodkas also likely contain sugar unless it is a natural infusion that derives color from the ingredient (e.g., raspberry vodka may naturally be red and coffee vodka brown). Fruits and ingredients like coconut contain natural sugars, so even a homemade infused vodka may contain trace amounts of sugar.
Does all flavored vodka have sugar?
Whether a flavored vodka contains sugar, and how much, varies by brand and depends on how the flavoring was added and if other ingredients, such as a sweetener, are used to marry the flavorings to the alcohol. The majority do not disclose the vodka's full nutrition information and ingredients, which makes it extremely difficult to tell the difference.
A few things to note:
- The official definition set by the U.S. government for "flavored vodka" indicates they may be made with or without sugar and must not be below 60 proof.
- The proof doesn't have much to do with sugar content. However, plain, unflavored vodka typically has a higher proof than flavored varieties. In general, the higher the proof, the higher the alcohol content and the higher the calorie content.
- Some vodka companies have released “natural infusions” or “sugar-free” flavored vodkas, which would imply that their other flavors may include sugar.
- When in doubt, simply pour an unflavored vodka instead, or enjoy a flavored vodka plain or with low- or no-sugar mixers.
Do flavored vodkas have more calories than regular vodka?
When you’re concerned about calories in flavored vodka, the most important thing to note is that online nutrition data may not be accurate. For instance, some nutrition sites list particular brands of whipped cream vodka as having the same amount of calories (and zero sugar) as unflavored vodka. This is very likely to be false data because a 70-proof vodka designed to be sweet should, in theory, have far more calories and some sugar. Unless the vodka producer or an independent party releases verified nutrition information, consider these sources with skepticism.
The calories in unflavored vodka depend on the proof. The number of calories increases as proof increases. The number of calories in flavored vodkas depends on the proof and the sugar content, if any. For example, Absolut Vodka provides nutrition info for all of its vodkas, and the clear vodka is the same as the vanilla vodka. It is when brands add other ingredients, including sweeteners, that the calorie count will be higher than their unflavored vodkas.
Does flavored vodka go bad?
Typically, flavored vodka has the same shelf life as all other distilled spirits: It will last indefinitely if stored properly. Keep bottles well sealed, out of direct light, and away from extreme cold or heat. Once open, you might notice a deterioration of flavor after a few years, but the vodka will likely be safe to drink. The exception is whether or not a flavored vodka contains added sugar and, if so, how much. Flavored vodka will not have as much sugar as liqueurs, so any degradation of the product over time, such as crystallization or change in color or flavor, should be negligible. If you do notice any crystallization or an off-color or flavor, it’s likely best to toss the vodka.
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Colleen Graham is a food and beverage writer with over a decade of experience writing about cocktails, beer, and wine. She is the author of two books and enjoys exploring liquors of all kinds to use in classic and modern cocktails and when developing original recipes.