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Finest High-Shelf Vodkas to Drink Straight or in Martinis


Vodka is usually a mistaken spirit, relegated to cocktails and neglected as one thing worthy of sipping straight. However chilled top-shelf vodkas paired with caviar? That’s an distinctive special-occasion pairing. The important thing to discovering one of the best top-shelf vodkas truly has nothing to do with value. There are many good ones hovering across the $20 to $30 vary. In reality, a few of our spirits specialists level to Tito’s ($18) and Kettle One ($19) as their vodka of alternative. Discovering a top quality vodka comes all the way down to making use of some skepticism to what number of occasions it’s been distilled and scanning the ingredient label.

“I search for corporations that don’t tout issues like ‘distilled 10 occasions!’ ” says Kim Haasarud, president of the U.S. Bartenders’ Guild and proprietor of Backyard Bar in Phoenix, Arizona. If the vodka wanted to be distilled 10 occasions, what did the product begin with that it took that a lot work to make it {smooth}? 3 times, perhaps 4, must be greater than adequate for an already high quality product to be refined, she says.

One other rule of thumb when perusing the aisles of your native liquor retailer: Usually, a pleasant bottle of vodka will solely have two to 3 components, says spirits knowledgeable Zach King, bar supervisor at Curio, inside Denver Central Market in Denver, Colorado.

Vodka is a impartial grain spirit, so when you’re not experiencing taste to the diploma of different spirits, you possibly can nonetheless get some refined nuances and mouthfeel, Hassarud provides.

Right here, spirits specialists share their favourite top-shelf vodkas worthy of a spot in your bar cart.


Chopin Household Reserve
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1. Chopin Vodka

“Potato vodkas are distinctive of their recent, earthy aroma and creamy mouthfeel,” says Haasarud. For a strong introduction to the almighty potato vodka, Haasarud recommends Chopin Potato Vodka. It has an extended, clear end and you’ll depend on it to be your new go-to for martinis with olives. In your prime shelf, Chopin additionally sells a super-premium potato vodka referred to as Chopin Household Reserve, which is made with younger potatoes and aged in Polish oak barrels for 2 years. This reserve vodka has notes of licorice and clove.

[$33-$130; chopinvodka.com]

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A bottle of Nikka Coffey Vodka.
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2. Nikka Coffey Vodka

You’ve acquired sufficient Russian bottles in your bar cart. Make room for a smooth-on-the-palate vodka from—belief us on this one—Japan. Nikka Coffey Vodka has a base of corn and barley malt, every individually distilled then blended collectively, King says. The key to its insane smoothness is credited to a tried-and-true distillation course of: Nikka makes its vodka in the identical nonetheless as its award-winning whiskies, then filters it by way of white birch charcoal. “There’s a faint notice of peaches and just a little little bit of mint,” he says. It’s {smooth} by itself, however works properly in a vodka tonic, too.

[$40; flaviar.com]

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Stolichnaya Elit Vodka

Stolichnaya Elit Vodka
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3. Stolichnaya Elit Vodka

Stolichnaya Elit Vodka makes fairly the journey earlier than it arrives in your bar cart. Grains come from the wildly fertile black soil of Russia’s Tambov Area. As soon as distilled, the spirit travels to Latvia, the place it’s blended with artesian properly water. Then, it’s filtered by way of super-fine quartz sand and Russian birch wooden charcoal. And eventually it goes by way of a signature freeze filtration at -64 levels Fahrenheit. The consequence? “It’s an excellent clear, spicy vodka that comes along with a smoky end,” says Elvis Mendez, beverage director at Mister French NYC. “I find it irresistible on the rocks and normally serve it with a lime wheel.”

[$40; reservebar.com]

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A bottle of Double Cross Vodka.
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4. Double Cross Vodka

For one more strong sipper, Mendez recommends Double Cross Vodka, made with winter wheat and water from an aquifer 200 ft under Slovakia’s Tatra Mountains. “A lot of peppery and candy notes linger on the first sip, and it follows with silky, citrusy tones that make it an important afternoon pick-me-up,” Mendez says.

[$30; doublecrossvodka.com]

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Belvedere Vodka

Belvedere Vodka
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5. Belvedere

Previous World conventional vodkas produced within the “Vodka Belt” of Jap Europe are favorites of Tony Abou-Ganim, creator of Vodka Distilled and associate at Libertine Social at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada. He recommends Belvedere, which frequently will get credit score for pioneering the ultra-premium class of vodka. “It’s an Previous World fashion with huge rye character that stands up and is seen,” says Abou-Ganim, additionally a lifetime member of the U.S. Bartenders Guild. He recommends ingesting Previous World vodkas neat, straight from the freezer, paired with smoked or pickled fish, wealthy cheeses, and caviar.

[$40; drizly.com]

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A bottle of Arbikie Haar Vodka.
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6. Arbikie Haar Vodka

Overlooking Lunan Bay, Arbikie Highland Property distillery is on the East Coast of Scotland. The identify for Haar vodka comes from the coastal fog that so incessantly shrouds the distillery. Made with a Zulu wheat, it’s creamy, complicated, and terroir-driven. Ektoras Binikos, co-owner and head mixologist at Sugar Monk in Harlem, NY, loves this vodka as a result of it’s smooth and delicate with aromas of pine, thyme, black moist moss, and a little bit of vanilla. “It might make a killer martini and pairs very properly with smoked salmon, lox, or caviar,” he says. Arbikie additionally makes a strawberry vodka that may simply change your thoughts about flavored vodkas.

[$43; thewhiskyexchange.com]

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A bottle of Hangar 1 Fog Point Vodka.
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7. Hangar 1 Fog Level Vodka

Not solely is that this Hangar 1 bottle a high-end vodka, it’s a dialog starter. “Because the identify suggests, the well-known Californian fog is remodeled into water, then used to supply vodka,” says mixologist Timo Torner of Cocktail Society. The fog-to-bottle vodka has notes of pears, citrus, and honeysuckle and is a complicated sipper.

[$140; hangarone.com]

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