I have a snotty friend who likes to complain that, "cheap vodka gives her headaches" when ever we are at parties and guys offer her free, cheap vodka, mostly just when it is a brand that she doesn't recognize. I realize that her statement might actually be true, however I believe that her headaches are more a result of her not knowing how to properly mix a drink when using less filtered vodka. I am hoping that someone more knowledgeable than myself can provide a good answer to this and rebuttle to her being brand crazy as opposed to quality crazy, so that I can finally get her to stop making us both look so bad!
It's the placebo effect due to brand obsession combined with drinking too much vodka.
Smirnoff and Sobieski stand up to any brand 3x their price. Have her do a blind taste test.
But she either won't participate or will ignore the results because she thinks that she looks sophisticated when she orders a Grey Goose martini
There are definitely some cheap vodkas out there, but neither Smirnoff nor Sobieski are those, and besides, Smirnoff has won blind taste tests with spirits panels.
Vodka after a certain amount of refinement (decent care in distillation and filtration steps) is pretty much marketing and the costs associated with it. If it's not mixed, you can pick up slight notes of cereal (from grain vodkas), sweetness (sometimes from what was fermented and sometimes from additives like glycerol), etc.
And if you want her to make you look less bad, make her switch to gin.
I'm just not a fan of Smirnoff. Have paid for some of their pricier expressions and still didn't enjoy them. Will have to grab a mini and put the "why" to paper, but I think it was something distinctively fusel-y. Still dig Stoli at the lower end of the price scale. And refuse to pay for boutique vodka, though I still will get a bottle of Tito's at some point to try.
"... I have a snotty friend..."
So sorry to hear that. Perhaps you can find a new friend.
"...cheap vodka gives her headaches..."
There is a small amount of truth to that. Some people are more sensitive to the trace amounts of impurities, like fusel oils, found in the lowest quality well vodkas.
"...when ever we are at parties and guys offer her free, cheap vodka..."
Her excuses may have more to do with the guys offering, than the "headaches."
A friend of mine told me her son and his college friends run cheap vodka through Brita filters five or six times and it comes out tasting like the priceier stuff. And we're talking plastic jug stuff. Not sure if this is true (and I'm not a vodka drinker, so I probably wouldn't bother trying), but i love the ingenuity.