GenTwenty Guide To Vodka

Life in your twenties is hard. Between finishing school, finding a solid career, seeing your friends getting married and having kids, and dealing with the negative connotations of being part of Gen Y… it’s a lot for anyone to deal with! With that in mind, this article is here to help you take the edge off—with vodka! You may not be into those college keggers anymore, but a few well-made cocktails in the company of close friends can help refresh your spirit. An open mind and a bit of experimentation is all you need to be crafting the perfect cocktail in minutes.

First, the vodkas to avoid, because you’re an adult now and shouldn’t be buying shitty vodka. Any bottle with the following printed on the label should be off-limits: Kamchatka, Rikaloff, Karkov, Popov, Silver Wolf, White Eagle, Taaka, and Barton (just a few of the notoriously awful choices out there). It’s on the bottom shelf for a reason.

Because I am a (sometimes) sane twenty-something, I haven’t actually tried any of the vodkas listed above. I also work in a liquor store and have done extensive research just for you. However, I have tried all the vodkas listed below.

If you’re on a budget (think $15-30):

Svedka

Svedka is pretty harsh.  It’s okay as long as you’re mixing enough with it. Also, some have said it has a slightly peppery aftertaste.

New Amsterdam

Definitely one of the cheaper vodkas you can find. With New Amsterdam, you get what you pay for. It’s a bit sharp for me, but mixes pretty well. They also have quite a few fruit-inspired flavors.

Finlandia

There was something about Finlandia by itself that just didn’t taste good. However, the Redberry flavor tasted decent when mixed with fruit punch and Sprite.  It’s cheaper, but you can definitely get better for an extra dollar.

Skyy

Skyy smelled bad, so I expected it to taste horrible, but… Skyy is actually damn good. It was incredibly smooth and not at all harsh. What’s more, it’s a cheaper vodka that has a pretty good variety of other fruity flavors you can choose from.

Smirnoff

In my opinion, one of the best cheaper vodkas you can get. It’s pretty smooth and not too harsh, and it comes in a ton of flavors. It’s a well-known vodka brand for a reason.

Absolut

From what I’ve seen by scoping out liquor stores, a 750 mL of Absolut can be bought at about $20. They have some interesting flavors and awesome bottle designs, but it’s harsher than other cheaper vodkas.

Tito’s

This is a little difficult to find in stores, but worth the search. It’s smooth, it’s not too harsh, and it doesn’t have a lot of taste, which is something you generally want with vodkas (unless it’s flavored). It’s not one of my favorites, but I’ve talked to many people who have named it as one of theirs.

Sobieski

Sobieski isn’t as well-known as other vodka brands, but it too is worth finding. It too is very smooth, not too harsh, and doesn’t have any taste at all. The price varies but is usually on par with Smirnoff.

Stolichnaya

Stoli for short, this vodka is a fairly respectable and well-known brand. It has the quality of higher-end vodka at a more affordable price. It’s strong without being sharp and it goes down pretty smooth.

If you have a bit more to spend ($30+):

Here come the pricier vodkas. These are the ones you’d look at picking up if you wanted to drink them straight rather than mixing, so the taste really matters here.

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Ketel One

Ketel One goes down smooth and isn’t super harsh… except for the very end. Maybe it was because I was drinking an orange-flavored Ketel One, but once I swallowed there was a bitter taste in the back of my throat.

Grey Goose

Everyone knows about Goose, and for good reason.  It’s smooth, it’s strong, and it tastes the way vodka should. Definitely good to drink by itself, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Cîroc

I dig Cîroc’s bottle design, but that’s as far as the love goes.  It’s not as smooth as Goose, it’s kind of harsh, and it’s pretty expensive.  Also, there was something especially syrupy about this vodka to me.

The final verdict:

Grey Goose has the reputation it deserves and would be great by itself.  However, spending that much money on something you’re probably going to mix with soda or juice is kind of silly.  I’d therefore name Stoli, Smirnoff, and Skyy as my favorites.

The fun thing about vodka is how versatile it is. I’m a fan of vodka and lemonade or vodka with Sprite and fruit punch. A Google search can yield all kinds of fun recipes that are appropriate for all occasions and anytime of the year. Check out some recipes suggested by Martha Stewart or Cosmopolitan. Pinterest also has insane amounts of recipes (Harry Potter inspired, anyone?).  Any of these drinks can be made at home or more traditional cocktails can be ordered at your favorite bar.

Grab some friends and start mixing. But please be safe and drink responsibly.

Do you have a favorite Vodka? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.