I’ve had this post in my drafts for a while, trying to decide on the 10 best vodka cocktails. But the fact is, these guys are the ones in my life, there’s only one newbie – all of the others have stood the test of time. So, let’s just go crazy and make it about quality, not quantity.
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This has nothing to do with fitness, but everything to do with life. Dave Grohl said “I don’t believe in guilty pleasures. If you f*cking like something, like it”. Oh okay then Dave.
Let’s all pretend that there are five contenders here. We will all lie to each other and pretend to be surprised when the Mojito is given the top spot, number 1, king of them all.
Before we get into that, you need to know that I am not a vodka snob. However, I have done my homework and I know what I like. For me, if you are going to drink vodka, you need to drink good vodka – this doesn’t necessarily mean expensive. There are not many things worse than a bad alcohol hangover (except for maybe good alcohol hangovers, but that’s another story). You know the ones I mean, where your insides feel like they’ve been scraped with nails and you’re not sure if your last drink was made with paint thinner.
So, if you’re interested, here’s a quick run down of my opinion on the vodka options.
Value brands, Absolut (I can’t drink much of this before feeling terrible), Smirnoff, Grey Goose*. I know – that’s a controversial list.
*GG won’t make you feel terrible, just incredibly poor and like you’ve been conned because there are superior vodkas available for a third of the price.
If you’re feeling fancy
Black cow is great, any of the Russian Standard special editions are awesome (although the gold one makes me particularly silly) and Chase.
Russian Standard is my, um, standard. Stolichnaya is great too and so is Skyy. If you’re on a budget, Green Mark is excellent value for money in my opinion
I have of course missed out a ton of amazing (and awful) vodkas – these are just the highlights from way too many years of research. That research is in no way complete, I don’t know if I’ll ever complete my life’s work. Sigh.
Let’s get to the cocktails!
5. Nigella’s Dirty Lemon Martini
This is a bad boy. I am still not sure if I actually like it, but goddamn, it makes me feel grown up. It also slows me down, I cannot drink it fast. It’s just not possible.
- Jar of preserved lemons
- White vermouth
- Unwaxed lemon/lime for zest
It’s basically 2 parts vodka, 1 part vermouth and a smidge of the brine (is it brine or juice?) from a jar of preserved lemons. Stick it all in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake until you get bored or thirsty.
I like to put a swirl of lemon or lime zest in the glass. And a whole bunch of ice.
Go! No wait! Slow down…
4. Espresso Martini
- Coffee liqueur
You’ll need a fresh shot of espresso. I’ve tried this with a strong dose of decaf and it works. When I say fresh, it needs to be hot. Then equal parts vodka and coffee liqueur – I make mine with Tia Maria, but Kahlua would work too (other brands are available).
Put it all in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake until you can’t hear the ice anymore – this means the coffee has melted the ice and it will all be the same temperature.
Next, you’ll need to make another one, because the one in your hand has already gone.
3. Moscow Mule
Ah the mule, it’s been a while.
- Ginger beer – not ginger ale
- Fresh limes
You really can go as fancy or simple as you like with your ginger beer. I’m more than happy with supermarket brand, but lots of people have more money than me!
Throw some ice in your favourite tall glass, add a double shot of vodka and top up to your liking with ginger beer. Chop up your limes (halves or quarters) and give the lime a squeeze before you throw it in the glass. You’ll need at least a half a lime per drink. Yummmmmmm
2. Raspberry Mojito
Perfect summer cocktail. You’ll need a barbecue and/or fire pit. Sunshine and swimming pool optional.
- A whole bunch of raspberries – fresh or frozen will work
- Sugar – I like to use golden granulated because I like the crunchy texture
- Soda water – this is basically a prop, it’s there to make people think you’ve put it in their drink!
If you’re using frozen raspberries, you’ll need them to be defrosted.
Grab your glasses, fill a third to a half with raspberries, add a double shot of vodka and stick a whole bunch of sugar in there too. Now, muddle** – you want the raspberries to be all pulpy but not too much. We’re not making a smoothie here, it needs to be sort of lumpy and rugged.
Then, add your ice, more sugar and a splash of soda water (or however much you like). Enjoy!
**If you don’t have a muddler, you can use a spoon or the end of a rolling pin. You need to sort of push/crush the raspberries against the bottom of the glass.
1. Mint and Lime Mojito
- Fresh mint – apple mint is THE BEST for mojitos
- Sugar – I like golden granulated
- Fresh limes
- Soda water (decoration)
I’m not gonna lie, this takes some work – but it is TOTALLY worth it.
First, you need to grab your mint and your sugar. You need to bash the two together, ideally until the sugar goes a bit green so it has soaked up some mint juice. I have found the best way to do this is to use a flavour shaker (thank you Jamie Oliver). You actually need to be careful not to completely hammer the mint. If you don’t have one of those, a pestle and mortar or a soup spoon and a bowl are good. If you’re using the spoon, you sort of want to press the mint into the sugar with the back of it.
That’s the hard bit over. Mix more mint and sugar than you think you’ll need – it’s easier in bigger batches and let’s face it, you will want another one in a minute.
Add your mint/sugar mix to each glass (probably about two teaspoons in each). Next add a double shot of vodka, chuck the limes in there once you’ve squeezed some of their juice in. You can muddle here if you like, or just stir.
Next, add some ice and as much soda water as you like (if at all!).
Finally, you’ll need some more sugar in there. Start with two teaspoons and let it fall to the bottom. You can stir as you drink and add more to taste.
I like to drink mine with a straw because I like the crunch. And I’m a child. Yummola!
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Congratulations, you are now drunk! But you are also really really happy…