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10 Best Flavored Vodkas

January 17, 2014  |  12:50pm
10 Best Flavored Vodkas

In the spirit world, flavored vodkas carry a stigma much like that of boxed wine and herpes. Those in the know tend to turn their noses up at flavored vodkas due to artificial flavoring and sugar overload. “If you want to play two flavors off against each other, you’d often add a liqueur, but can’t do that with most sugar-bomb flavored vodkas,” says Sam Meyer of the website Cocktailians Cocktailians.com. From the more “vanilla” varieties (like actual vanilla) to hops and bison grass, our top ten flavored vodkas prove exceptions to the rule.

Hophead Hop Vodka
Anchor Distilling Co.; $42.99 (750 ml)
This isn’t a hop-flavored vodka, rather it’s made with distilled hops (big difference). The result: a beer kindred spirit with the hop aromas you love minus the bitterness. “It’s fantastic in Bloody Marys, and a very dry Hop Vodka Tonic. I don’t know of any other product quite like it, as it’s got fruit, floral notes, earthiness, and bitterness all playing well together.”
From the palette of: Sam Meyer, Cocktailians.
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Zubrowka Zu Vodka
Polmos Bialystok Distiller; $24.99 (750 ml)
This Polish vodka is flavored with bison grass, which gives it a caramel/grassy/nutty flavor. True Zubrowka is illegal to import to the US, because bison grass contains coumarin, which is a blood thinner. There’s a version called Zubrowka Zu that recreates the flavor using herbal extracts, and they do a pretty good job of matching the flavor to the actual Zubrowka that I’ve tasted. It’s good on its own, or most famously mixed with apple juice, which brings out lots of interesting spice flavors from the vodka.
From the palette of: Sam Meyer, Cocktailians
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Grey Goose La Poire Vodka
Grey Goose; $29.98 (750 ml)
Of their flavored vodkas, Grey Goose Brand Ambassador and master mixologist Guillaume Jubien recommends La Poire. “Besides the quality, the flavor is very versatile and can be combined with almost any ingredient. I use it to make refreshing summer cocktails with citrus, herbal and fruity flavors and also warm winter drinks with prominent spices like ginger, lemongrass, cloves, pepper and tamarind.” The whole of the Buerre d’Anjou pear is gently crushed before maceration and blending with the vodka, yielding the pear’s distinctly juicy and sweet (but not too sweet) flavor profile.
From the palette of: Guillaume Jubien, Brand Ambassador, GREY GOOSE
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Folks, Do Try This at Home:
GREY GOOSE Vodka Winter Nip
A pinch of chili powder adds a dash of heat to cool GREY GOOSE La Poire Flavored Vodka, limoncello, blood orange juice and simple syrup.

Square One Basil
Square One Organic Spirits; $34.99 (750 ml)
For a unique expression of fresh Basil, Square One Basil is organic vodka infused with four organic basil varieties – Thai, Lemon, Sweet and Genovese – plus a touch of organic honeysuckle, lemongrass and coriander botanicals. The taste profile of this spirit is clearly basil, but the complex collection of herbs gives it added depth that makes it incredibly versatile in cocktails.
From the palette of: H. Joseph Ehrmann, Proprietor, Elixir SF
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Square One Cucumber
Square One Organic Spirits; $34.99 (750 ml)
This organic rye vodka is infused with the essence of organic cucumber. It took Square One’s master distiller three years to capture the true cucumber essence that you find in this spirit. Many have tried to copy it, and some have added vanilla or other flavorings to try and pull it off. But none have successfully created the genuine aroma and bright taste of fresh cucumber that I’ve found in Square One Cucumber.
From the palette of: H. Joseph Ehrmann, Proprietor, Elixir SF
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Rehorst Citrus & Honey
Great Lakes Distillery; $30 (750 ml)
Vodka from Wisconsin? I know, I was surprised, too. But if you’re in the market for a citrus flavored vodka, this small batch booze is a safe bet. Great Lakes Distillery in Milwaukee makes their Rehorst Citrus & Honey with local Wisconsin honey and real lemons. The bartender at Wolf Peach, one of Milwaukee’s top 10 restaurants, does a specialty cocktail called the Wolfhound: Rehorst Citrus Honey Vodka, fresh grapefruit juice, rosemary syrup and grapefruit bitters.
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Crop Vodka Tomato
Crop Harvest Earth Co.; $29 (750 ml)
While Sam Meyer gives a nod to the Meyer Lemon and Cucumber, he thinks Tomato is the cream of the certified organic Crop flavored vodkas. “Subtle, real-tasting flavors (the tomato vodka has a cooked-tomato note to it because they actually cook the tomatoes) and very mixable.”
From the palette of: Sam Meyer,Cocktailians
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Hangar One Kaffir Lime
Hangar One; $36.99 (750 ml)
Made in Alameda, Calif., Hangar One uses a kind of lime popular in Thai cooking that’s far more complex that what most of us are used to. The result is a lime-flavored vodka that doesn’t taste like Jolly Rancher lime candy.
From the palette of: Sam Meyer, Cocktailians
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Charbay Ruby Red Grapefruit Vodka
Charbay; $36 (750 ml)
Also from California, it’s wonderful in drinks like classic Cosmopolitans and Chuck Taggart’s great original recipe, the Verena Abbott (a grapefruit-juice sour with the grapefruit vodka, Angostura bitters, and demerara sugar syrup). Made with 100 percent ruby red grapefruit, there’s no other “natural flavors” added to this highly sought after spirit (it’s actually sold out until February 2014).
From the palette of: Sam Meyer, Cocktailians
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Tru Organic Vanilla Vodka
Greenbar Craft Distillery; $30 (750 ml)
It’s a special brand because of its unique taste (not like other super sweet vanilla vodkas) and it is handcrafted using whole, organic ingredients, not extracts. Tru Vanilla is infused with hand-scraped organic Bourbon vanilla beans for a complex vodka with notes of hazelnut and white flowers and a lightly sweet, lingering finish. The company also plants a tree for every bottle sold to replenish forests so you can feel good while sipping your vanilla-flavored cocktail.
From the palette of: Rob Matzkin, Booze Carriage
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