Vodka is an oft-misunderstood spirit. For the uninitiated it almost seems like there’s nothing to it — a simple distillate of fermented potatoes or grains, with strong ties to Russia, Scandinavia, and Eastern Europe (and the favorite spirit of ‘The Mountain’). Part of the negative stigma surrounding vodka is due to the massive amount of cheap, bad vodka on the market. You probably won’t be happy making a martini, Moscow Mule, White Russian, or any other cocktail using a $10 handle of vodka in a plastic bottle. But you also don’t need to go the other direction and purchase an overly expensive quadruple distilled, ultra-premium bottle.
So how do you find the proverbial diamond in the rough, the bargain vodka that is actually really good? That’s where bartenders come in. We asked a handful of the most respected bartenders in the country where we could score the best cheap vodka and this is what they said.