Vodka is the most often used liquor in the bar. It remains a top choice for many drinkers and offers excellent versatility in cocktails. While there are many to explore, a few vodka brands have risen to the top of the list. They are reliable and appear on nearly every liquor store shelf and back bar across the globe.
Names like Absolut, Ketel One, Van Gogh, and Tito's are among the most popular top-shelf vodkas on the market. These may be "premium" brands, but they're also reasonably priced. While you can expect to pay a little more for the higher quality, none of these vodkas fall into the true luxury price range. Many include impressive flavors as well, and they rarely disappoint when it's time to mix up a great vodka cocktail.
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Ketel One is an ultra-smooth vodka with no frills. It is one of the cleanest-tasting vodkas you will come across and an absolute delight when chilled or served over ice. You'll find it best in simple recipes like the vodka martini and vodka tonic.
This Dutch vodka thrives on the 300-year distilling legacy of the Nolet family, who are known for making great gin. It's distilled in small batches from European wheat, offering a crisp but silky taste. The flagship vodka forms the base for the brand's flavors, and all weigh in at 40 percent ABV (80 proof).
Ketel One's flavor portfolio is minimal compared to others. It's limited to Citroen (a blend of four lemon and two lime varieties) and Oranje (flavored with two types of oranges). On occasion, the brand releases special edition vodkas as well.
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Chopin produces a brilliant Polish potato vodka. Named after the famous composer Frederic Chopin, this four-time distilled vodka is as enjoyable straight as it is in cocktails.
Potato vodkas are not numerous, though the quality of Chopin will turn anyone onto the spud-based liquor. Taste it alongside Ketel One to gain an appreciation for both grain and potato vodkas.
Chopin remains an unflavored vodka brand, though it has branched out from potatoes. The portfolio includes an equally impressive wheat vodka, and the rye vodka is also the base for the delicious Dorda Double Chocolate Liqueur. Chopin's vodkas are 80 proof and designed to display the top-shelf taste achievable from locally sourced, single-ingredient vodkas.
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Belvedere is another wonderful Polish vodka. "Pure" is the original expression and flagship of the brand. It's an excellent choice for high-end cocktails. Its unique taste comes from rye, making it a vodka with a flavor backbone.
Following a trend to create naturally infused vodkas, Belvedere completely revamped its flavor line in 2021. They stopped making citrus, peach, ginger, and all the other flavored vodkas. Those were replaced with Organic Infusions, including Lemon & Basil, Blackberry & Lemongrass, and Pear & Ginger. Belvedere also has two single-estate rye vodkas, and Heritage 176 is finished with malted rye. All of the brand's vodkas are 80 proof.
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Grey Goose is a go-to vodka for many drinkers. You will rarely be disappointed as it is one of the most mixable vodkas you can find, and it is everywhere.
This vodka is distilled from French wheat, which imparts a subtle sweetness in a five-column process. All Grey Goose Vodkas are 80 proof, and the flavor lineup is simple. Le Citron and L'Orange are staples for any well-rounded bar, and the pear vodka, La Poire, is one of the best of its flavor. Grey Goose regularly releases other vodkas, such as the 70-proof Essences line of botanical infusions that combine fruits and herbs.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
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Tito's is a one-bottle vodka brand that doesn't mess around with flavors. This is a pure, clean, smooth vodka that you can drink straight or mix into any cocktail recipe you like. Distilled from corn in small batches, it's 80-proof and naturally gluten-free.
The Texas distillery launched the vodka in 1997 but it didn't really take off until the 2000s. The "handmade" vodka tagline is not a gimmick, either, as the company started as one guy (Bert "Tito" Beveridge) making vodka in self-built pot stills. It has become a top seller, even beating out giants like Grey Goose and Jack Daniel's, in just a few years.
Is Vodka Gluten-Free?
Vodka can be distilled from any number of things, including wheat, and some use a mixture of grains. When looking for a gluten-free vodka, choose brands distilled from corn, potatoes, or grapes.
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Hangar 1 Vodka stands out from the crowd for a few reasons. For one, the California vodka calls an abandoned Navy aircraft hangar home. Secondly, it's distilled from Viognier grapes and Midwestern grains.
"Straight" is Hangar 1's unflavored vodka, though it has lovely floral and pear notes that give it extra depth. The brand also has just a few equally well-crafted flavors, and all in the portfolio are 80 proof.
Instead of the average citrus vodkas, Hangar 1 offers Buddha's Hand Citron (an ancient lemon variety), Makrut Lime (a bumpy varietal), and Mandarin Blossom. The extra dimension these specialty fruits impart to the vodka is extraordinary. The distillery also offers vodka blended with rosé wine and a tasty seasonal infused with honeycomb.
Hangar 1's Distiller's Exclusive line has innovative options like cardamom and fennel, but their experimentation goes beyond the usual flavoring ingredients. For instance, Smoke Point Vodka is distilled from grapes hit by the smoke of California's Glass Fire in 2020. Rather than waste the produce, they transformed it into a uniquely flavored limited-edition vodka.
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Van Gogh Vodka is a benchmark in vodka, featuring a smooth, clean, and refreshing taste. This Dutch vodka is distilled from a blend of Dutch, French, and German wheat. All of the flavors use natural ingredients in a two-stage infusion.
While the clear vodka is impressive, Van Gogh's portfolio really shines when it comes to flavor. It includes almost any taste you'll need in the bar, from reliable citrus and vanilla vodkas to fruity flavors like açai-blueberry, mango, peach, and pomegranate. It's also the label to look for when you crave yummy caramel, chocolate, or espresso vodkas.
Van Gogh's clear, Citroen, and Oranje vodkas are bottled 80 proof, while the other flavors are 70 proof.
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Cîroc Vodka is a very fine top-shelf option that's fantastic in cocktails. While Ciroc may be best known as Sean Combs' brand, the real genius behind the vodka is founder Jean-Sebastian Robiquet. Diageo brought on Combs to help with marketing (and it worked very well).
This French vodka is distilled five times from mauzac blanc and ugni blanc grapes. The last distillation happens in a custom copper pot still at Distillerie de Maison Villevert-Chevancaux in the French countryside. The main vodka is 80 proof, and Cîroc offers 70-proof flavored vodkas. The line includes apple, coconut, French vanilla, mango, peach, pineapple, and red berry. It's extremely common to find limited-edition flavors as well.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
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Stolichnaya Vodka (better known as Stoli) is a perfect everyday premium grain vodka for mixed drinks. It's one of the best Russian vodkas on the market, and this brand has an extensive portfolio of vodkas. The original is 80-proof, there's a 100-proof version, Stoli Gold is distilled from wheat, and they offer gluten-free vodka.
It changes, but on average Stoli offers around 10 flavored vodkas (37.5 percent ABV, 75 proof). These include the essential citrus vodkas (Citros, Lime, and Ohranj) and vanilla (Vanil), as well as berries (Blueberi, Razberi, and Strasberi), Cucumber, and peach (Peachik). The brand also hopped on the dessert vodka craze, though Salted Karamel is the only remaining flavor. If you're looking for spicy vodka, try Stoli Hot. It's one of the few commercial jalapeño vodkas available.
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Absolut Vodka is instantly recognizable. It's hard to find a bar or liquor store that doesn't have at least a few bottles in stock. Launched in 1979, Absolut is a Swedish vodka distilled from winter wheat and bottled at 80 proof (including the flavors). Most of the brand's fame is the result of brilliant marketing campaigns that established it as an industry leader. It is a quality, reliable vodka with a clean taste.
Absolut's flavor portfolio is continually changing. There are staples like Citron and Vanilia, while other vodkas feature mango, pear, and peach. Absolut Peppar is their most unique option, and it makes an amazing bloody mary.