Next time you find yourself in the supermarket drinks aisle, challenge yourself to find a more versatile spirit than vodka. You can pretty much add any mixer you want to the drink Russians call 'the water of life'.
There are too many good mixed drinks with vodka to list them all here. Instead we’ve handpicked a few of the best, but also a few of the healthiest.
The Healthiest mixers for vodka
Vodka’s versatility and relatively low calorie count make it a favourite drink of weight watchers. To call it healthy is probably a step too far, but paired with the right mixer, it can certainly be better for your waistline than most boozy alternatives. If you’re looking to keep the pounds at bay then you could do a lot worse than stocking your fridge with these refreshing choices.
The bad news is the tonic water in your vodka tonic isn’t as light as you might think. The good news is that simple soda water (also known as club soda) is an easy alternative. Since it’s nothing but carbonated water, it’s hands down the healthiest mixer for vodka.
Whether the absence of tonic’s quinine-induced bitterness is a plus or a minus is up for debate, but squeeze in a little lemon or lime juice and a vodka soda will always hit the spot on a summer afternoon.
On the surface, it’s easy to confuse ginger ale with ginger beer – the kick in the classic Moscow mule cocktail. However, whereas ginger beer is brewed and fermented, ginger ale is a more subtle, lightly carbonated soft drink. Ginger ale is the less spicy, less gassy, but slightly healthier alternative.
Some may argue that a vodka and ginger ale isn’t a Moscow mule at all, but you do you. It’s delicious nonetheless.
Different fruit juices complete some of the most popular mixed drinks with vodka. The spirit’s relatively unobtrusive flavour means you’ll struggle to find a juice it won’t improve.
Vodka and cranberry juice – a.k.a. the Cape Codder – is a calorie-counting classic, although you may prefer a juice that isn’t sweetened as standard. So mix vodka and orange juice in a highball glass and – voila – you have a Screwdriver. Or you can even use orange and cranberry juices to make yourself a Madras.
Another popular fruit mixer for vodka is grapefruit juice, which offers a refreshing take on the Greyhound cocktail (originally with gin). It goes especially well with infused vodka, such as with ginger or coconut.
The ultimate hot weather refresher involves preparing your own icy mixer to top off your choice of vodka – ideal for when guests are all bringing their own favourite brand. What’s more, you probably already have the ingredients to hand. At least if, like all good vodka aficionados, you’re constantly stocked up on limes.
To make a lime and vodka granita, simply:
Start by stirring 75g of icing sugar with the juice of 3 limes.
Beat an egg white until firm and then mix it into your sweetened juice.
Transfer the mixture into a metal dish and freeze it for 3–4 hours, returning at least every hour to give it a stir.
To serve, pour a little vodka into 4 lowball glasses, drop a wedge of lime into each, and top with the granita. For an extra bit of flair, start by zesting your limes before you juice them and set the curls aside in an airtight container until it’s time to garnish.
This fruity summer cocktail comes courtesy of the Maybe Sammy bar in Sydney, Australia. You’ll need a relatively well-stocked bar to throw this together at the drop of a hat – including mango vodka – but it’s worth the extra prep to get your next barbecue off to a flyer.
Besides, if you can’t get mango vodka, it’s easy (if not preferable) to prepare yourself. Just put some dried mango in a bottle of your favourite vodka and leave the flavour to infuse overnight. Roughly 100g of mango to every litre of vodka should do the trick.
For each serving of Lady Luck, you should:
Shake together 30ml of the mango vodka with 10ml of Maraschino liqueur, 20ml of Cointreau, 20ml of Pink Lady apple juice, 20ml of freshly squeezed lemon, and a dash of egg whites.
Then simply strain into a highball glass
Top with soda water – or a natural sparkling water like S.Pellegrino if you prefer.
Make any late breakfast the brunch of champions with everyone’s favourite hangover cure. Every bartender worth their celery salt has a personal take on the classic Bloody Mary, but let’s keep it simple.
To make your perfect Bloody Mary, you simply need to:
First, fill a highball glass with ice, add however much vodka you think is appropriate to start the morning with, and then pour in fresh tomato juice.
Leave enough room to stir in the juice of half a lemon, a pinch of pepper and celery salt, and a generous lashing of Worcestershire sauce.
Add hot sauce to taste (or horseradish if you prefer) and garnish with a stick of celery and slice of lemon.
If you really want to impress whoever you’re making breakfast for, start by lightly wetting the rim of your glass with water and dipping it in celery salt. It should form an attractive crust.
But remember, at the end of the day, vodka boasts something few other spirits can: there are few mixers it can’t improve.
More cocktails from Fine Dining Lovers
Why be satisfied with just vodka when you can mix up a drink with gin and vodka. You might want to say your evening prayers before tossing back one of the vesper, in which the two spirits mentioned above are shaken vigorously with lillet blanc and garnished with candied lemon zest.
Then there are cocktails where the base is a wild card. Enter the gimlet, an explosion of lime that can be mixed with vodka, gin, or even mezcal, tequila’s smoke-shrouded cousin. This simple drink with a strong literary pedigree (it was popularised in the fiction of Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and Chandler) can be embellished with different herbs like rosemary, basil, or mint.
Speaking of mint, to conjure up swirls of Southern nostalgia and the rowdy revelries of the Kentucky Derby, slurp a mint julep. The elements: bourbon whiskey, sugar, crushed ice, and, of course, mint.
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How long does it take to mix the perfect Moscow mule? Just one minute. Good vodka, spicy ginger beer, sour-fruity lime, ice, all in a copper glass. Just through a few tweaks, you can turn a simple drink into a cocktail to remember.
Put together tequila, lime juice, triple sec, coconut milk and ice in a blender. Blend until smooth. Rim glasses with lime wedge and dip in sanding sugar. Pour into a glass and garnish with lime and cranberries.