Choosing the best cheap bottle of vodka is tough. Vodka is a versatile spirit — largely a neutral grain alcohol with little to no taste. This makes it the perfect base for almost every kind of cocktail imaginable. It’s also fairly cheap to make since it’s unaged. Much of the cost of the brown spirits comes from the big expense incurred while storing barrels, sometimes for decades.
Picking a good and cheap bottle of vodka is a little dicey. Vodka should be as close to flavorless as possible. This, generally, comes from multiple filtrations of the spirit after a few distillations. Each distillation cleans the alcohol of impurities while each filtration pulls all the imperfections from the spirit until you have a clear booze that should be nearly tasteless.
So a good litmus for vodka is how harsh it burns. If it burns like the fires of a Soviet invasion of mainland Europe, it’s a piss-poor vodka. If it tastes like a voluptuous mineral water elixir with a slight alcohol edge, it’s the good stuff.
To help you choose the best cheap bottles of vodka on the market, we thought we’d compile a short list of 15 great options under $20. That means heavy hitters like Tito’s just miss the list. We’re leaving the huge plastic bottles you see on the bottom shelf off the list too, and focusing on the well-crafted standards. We’re also leaving all the flavored vodkas aside. That’s a topic for another day.
Moskovskaya is far and away the best bottle of vodka you can buy for around ten bucks. It’s a legit, old-school Russian vodka that’s very smooth and, thus, very drinkable.
You can take shots of this stuff without any qualms and it works wonders as a base spirit in any cocktail. Oh, and did we mention it’s usually ten bucks a bottle? Pro tip: You should always have a bottle of Moskovskaya in the freezer.