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Jun 13, 2012 01:25 PM

What's a good quality yet affordable vodka?

I've been a bourbon drinker for as long as I can remember, and I still like my bourbon, but I started drinking vodka cocktails when I would go out with friends and stuff. I never liked the taste of straight vodka, but I enjoy it in a nice cocktail, like a screwdriver or with clear soda. So what is a good smooth vodka for mixing a nice drink or for even trying straight? I have tried Stoli before, and it tasted bad, and Smirnoff tasted bad too. I have heard that good vodka should have no taste at all. I have heard that good vodka should not have any bad taste or odor at all. Is potato or grain vodka better? I want one that is tasteless, odorless, and good for mixing. But not one that is too expensive. Ketel One? Finnladia? Chopin? Absolut? Is Russian vodka best? Also, is higher proof vodka better than 80 proof? I know these questions are somewhat subjective, but would like some suggestions, thanks!

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  1. "Ideal" vodka has no real taste to it, which is why I generally avoid it. I like strong flavors. That said, I found the New Amsterdam vodka is really quite good, very smooth, and the price was pretty reasonable. I believe it's a recent product, I've been buying New Amsterdam gin for a while but I just saw this for the first time a few months ago. If you don't like Smirnoff or Stoli, give it a shot, it's not very similar.

    1. Real vodkas are NOT supposed to be tasteless. Still the current fashion is for people who want to get drunk to get tasteless vodka. When the product is tasteless, there is no such thing as a best one - you just go with the cheapest tasteless product. So, this means you can pay about $6/bottle instead of $40. Some folks refilter the cheap vodka to get rid of any residual taste.

      1. I find Luksusowa (Polish potato vodka) to be smooth, pretty much tasteless and very inexpensive- it's about $9 here in CA. I don't like vodka (to me it doesn't taste like nothing- it tastes like burn with no interesting flavors to make up for it) but this stuff is perfectly serviceable in a mixed drink and it has less burn than other similarly priced vodkas I've tried. I personally would avoid going extremely cheap like kagemusha suggests because you might regret it the next day (and skip the filtering- expensive, time consuming, and the plastic filter might leach into the alcohol). I've also heard good things about Monopolowa vodka (sold at Trader Joe's) but haven't tried it myself.

        4 Replies
        1. re: tinnywatty

          Oh I like my vodka to have some flavor. My comments were addressed to those who insist that "premium" vodka must be colorless and tasteless. They might as well buy Everclear. And just about any colorless and tasteless "vodka" is likely to be missing the congeners that give you that hangover. (Ignoring the possibility of alcohol poisoning here).

          1. re: tinnywatty

            I may be a total plebeian, but I love Luksosowa and Monoplowa. I quite like simple vodka cocktails, but my close friend drinks vodka neat, and also likes these brands. I used to put Luksusowa in an old Chopin bottle at my apartment "bar" because nobody can really taste the difference*. So that's my recommendation.

            *OF COURSE NOT YOU, OH MAGICAL AND DISTINGUISHED CHOWHOUNDERS. Just the lowlifes I hang out with ;)

            1. re: tinnywatty

              Luksusowa is my vodka of choice, the big bottle is always $19.99 here in Polishtown USA. Well actually Stoli is my favorite, but it's twice the price, so I mostly get that when I'm out. I am unfortunately very sensitive to impure liquor, I get headaches if it's not right, but this one never does me wrong! When I'm somewhere there isn't much choice, Smirnoff is fine too.

              1. re: tinnywatty

                I like monopolowa. It is a potato vodka, FWIW. It's cheap, but not real cheap, and tastes decent.

              2. You say that you like vodka cocktails when you go out with friends, so what brand(s) do you drink and enjoy when you're out? I assume that would be the best starting point. Or is it that you just can't find anything that you enjoy neat?

                The thing about vodka is that while it certainly doesn't have any big distinctive flavor profile, it's also not truly tasteless. So while one vodka might be more "tasteless" than the other, I'm pretty sure they're all going to have that distinctive quality that lets you know you're not just drinking astringent water. Though vodka isn't something I have a great amount of experience with, so I may be wrong.

                The only other thing I know about vodka is that James Bond puts pepper in his, which he started doing so that the impurities/poisons in the cheap vodka he had would sink to the bottom. Although that probably isn't relevant here, and might not actually work.

                1 Reply
                1. re: sanjacinto

                  Yup - he had his vodka martini shaken not stirred with a dash of bitters and would sprinkle black pepper on the surface to act as a filter. Activated charcoal works better - which is why some folks (not me - I'd pay a couple of bucks extra to avoid the hassle) use filters.

                2. I haven't tried many unflavored vodkas, just don't find them interesting, but I don't mind drinking Sobieski neat. Smirnoff was more neutral, Sobieski has a subtle flavor.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: ncyankee101

                    Russian Standard, Smirnoff.

                    Stay away from Absolut, Svedka.

                    1. re: Beachowolfe

                      I've been fine with Absolut, but Svedka gave me the worst hangover feeling and I only had 1 drink

                      1. re: SBackes

                        Safe to say it wasn't the Svedka that caused that.

                        1. re: ac106

                          pretty sure it was the Svedka. I've tried it twice, same result.
                          And Ciroc gives me killer migraines. Guess they just don't work well with my body chemistry or something

                          I've been fine with many other brands of vodka