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Nov 15, 2008 01:09 PM

What kind of vodka for your vodka sauce? (for tonight!)

Last time I used Skyy. The sauce was wonderful! I need more vodka for more sauce (which I am making tonight) and was wondering if people had preferences. I can always fall back on the Skyy. Thanks for any suggestions!

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  1. Smirnoff. It's comparatively inexpensive and has won many taste tests against fancier, more heavily marketed, brands.

    1 Reply
    1. re: JoanN

      Thanks, Joan! That was my fiance's suggestion, but I wanted to check with the experts!

    2. Stolichnaya Peppar

      Smirnoff with the lemon flavor.

      1 Reply
      1. re: gordeaux

        doesn't the smirnoff lemon flavor contain artificial lemon flavor?
        if so, why wouldn't it be better to use plain vodka and add real lemon juice or zest if one wanted to add a lemon flavor element?

      2. Are you talking about the classic creamy tomato sauce used to dress pasta and other foods? If so, the function of the vodka isn't to add its own flavour but to act as a catalyst, releasing flavour from the tomatoes. What's more, vodka is the mildest tasting of the major spirits (some would say it's virtually flavourless) and the quantities involved in the classic recipe are relatively miniscule (Pat Wells' version calls for 2 tablespoons of vodka to 28 oz of tomatoes, 1 cup of heavy cream and 1/4 cup of olive oil, not to mention garlic, red pepper flakes and chopped parsley), all of which is to say it really doesn't much matter which brand you use.

        1 Reply
        1. re: carswell

          My recipe calls for 5 oz vodka, and a can of tomato paste rather than tomatoes. The bulk of the recipe is sauteed shallots and proscuitto. The vodka is very noticable although not in an alcohol kind of way.
          I would never use something I wouldn't drink, to answer the original question. That would usually be Polish potato vodka. Of course don't waste Ketel One or Grey Goose in this.

        2. I'd say it depends how long your'e going to cook the vodka down for. Some recipes for penne alla vodka, you barely evaporate the booze at all; for those I'd stick w/ Skyy or any premium vodka you like. If you're reducing the heck out of it, then it probably doesn't matter too much.
          P.S. Many flavored vodkas contain less ALCOHOL than their unflavored counterparts. Vodka should always be 80 proof; some flavored vodkas are only 60 or 70 proof. Could affect the cooking as well. Adam

          2 Replies
          1. re: adamshoe

            I wouldn't advise using a flavored vodka if you're going to reduce. Everything that dilutes the flavoring (water and alcohol) will tend to evaporate, leaving concentrated flavoring additives in your sauce. They will most likely overpower anything else you put in, and their taste may not be nearly as pleasant when they're in such a concentrated form. If you want lemon or pepper flavor, add some actual lemon or pepper.

            1. re: JeffPSU

              Also a good point. No sense in adding artificial flavors to the sauce. In a drink it's one thing, since you cant just add pepper to a drink. But in a dish? Use the real thing.

          2. The cheapest stuff you can find.

            The vodka adds no flavor to the sauce. What it does is dissolve the alcohol soluble flavors in the tomatoes, of which there are plenty.

            Since you're only adding a couple of ounces, and all you care about is the alcohol leaching extra flavor from the tomatoes, feel free to use the cheapest stuff you can find.

            Now, were it me, I personally wouldn't go out and specially buy a bottle just to cook with since it requires so little vodka to get the effect. I'd just use whatever was in the liquor cabinet. But it's a good way to use up leftover rotgut from a party or whatever.

            2 Replies
            1. re: aravenel

              boy, i think it truly is possible to buy a vodka that would be unacceptable. i recall some brands from bygone college days that had an unnatural or grainy taste. these would cook out very poorly--and that off taste would persist. now most rational adults don't stock such spirits at home. even so, i'd be careful of buying the cheapest of the cheap. smiroff's is dandy for cooking and bloody marys.

              1. re: silverhawk

                Oh trust me, I'm well aware of how bad some of the stuff out there is, having graduated from college only a couple of years ago. But the fact is that there is so little of it in the sauce, and that vodka is already so neutrally flavored (even the bad stuff), and the use of it isn't for the flavor that the vodka brings, but for the alcohol in it, and it really doesn't matter much.

                Still, like I said, I wouldn't buy vodka just to cook with. I'd use whatever is in the liquor cabinet, and if I didn't have any, I'd buy something that I could drink afterward--Smirnoff in my book. You only need a couple of ounces to cook with. The point is, don't go buying expensive vodka for this. This is one place where having the best ingredients isn't that important.