Vodka, by law, is “odorless, colorless, and tasteless,” but of course that’s not entirely true. It actually smells a lot like alcohol—a bracing wake-up call to the sinuses. It looks like platinum-tinged water, sparkling in the light. And it tastes like, well, that’s where the metaphors come in, but, to me, the first sip of an icy glass of vodka is like stepping into outer space and floating in the ether: silent, empty, and beautiful. What follows is a selection of vodkas with varying prices that you should have in your home bar.
The ultra-smooth Ciroc ($35) is distilled from French grapes, and has a zesty character, luscious texture, and faint echoes of lime and mint. VIP lounge staple Grey Goose ($40), also from France, tastes expensive, with a whisper of vanilla and a muted astringency. It’s pure drinking pleasure. Stolichnaya ($24) has a wonderfully smooth and crisp taste, with a hint of grain. Stoli Elit ($60), the iconic Russian vodka house’s most refined offering, is exquisite, with a nip at the front and a long, smooth finish. Belvedere Pure ($30), from Poland, has a gorgeous frosted bottle, a mild sweetness, and faint vegetal notes—perfect for a martini.
Chopin, also from Poland, makes a potato vodka ($32) with a pleasing roundness, as well as a rye vodka ($32), a bolder version with a peppery profile and the faint flavor of toast. Ultimat ($40), yet another Polish product, is a blend of potato, wheat, and rye vodkas with a savory mouth-feel and the faintest hint of berries. Effen ($30) hails from Holland, and even at room temperature, it’s cool as an iceberg. With vanilla notes and a great texture, it’s candy on the lips, minus the cloying stickiness. Ketel One ($23), also Dutch, is pure like mountain air. Sweden’s Absolut ($25) has a pronounced kick that announces its presence, and few, if any, sweet notes. From New Zealand comes 42 Below ($22), a super-smooth drink with hints of grain and straw. Finally, Square One Organic ($35), from good old Idaho, USA, is made from 100% American rye, with vanilla notes and just a hint of spice. Fill two glasses, grab a friend, and toast to the good life.