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We Asked Bartenders To Name The Vodkas You Can Actually Drink Straight

Okay, it’s come down to this. After weeks in home confinement, you’ve polished off your collection of rare whiskeys, aged rums, smoky mezcals, and you’ve even burnt through those random, dusty bottles of Italian bitter liqueur. Suddenly you find yourself staring at a spirit that you’ve never once attempted to drink straight. That’s right, all you have left is vodka.

“Vodka isn’t most people’s first choice to drink straight,” says Jake Larowe, bar manager at Birds and Bees in Los Angeles. “But there are some vodkas that have enough flavor and texture to make it an enjoyable experience.”

See how thrilled he sounds? Since we’d rather you didn’t pour yourself a glass of vodka that tastes like it was designed to power your lawnmower, we decided to ask some of our favorite bartenders to tell us the bottles of vodka they actually enjoy drinking straight. Hopefully, you have one of these on hand — if not, you can always order them. But if you’re doing that, might as well grab some mixers, too.

Tito’s

Cody Dillon, general manager at Florblanca in Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica

Although I don’t drink vodka frequently, many of our clients do. A favorite among our clients is Tito’s. It’s smooth, sweet, and highly drinkable. We like to infuse this with cucumber and mint.

Purity Vodka

Courtney Everett, bartender at O-Ku Sushi in Atlanta

Purity Vodka is my pick for a vodka to drink without a mixer. It is crisp and clean and lighter-bodied, so it’s easy to drink straight or in a martini.

Crystal Head

Cody Goldstein, founder of Muddling Memories in New York City

Let’s “face” it, Crystal Head just looks cool. Did you know it also tastes delicious and is a premium vodka? Want to know why it is so easy to drink? Probably something to do with the water that’s been distilled from Canada and then filtered seven times to give it that distinct smoothness. If that weren’t enough to convince you, it also gets filtered through layers of semi-precious crystals, aka diamonds.

Unlike some other vodkas, Crystal Head contains no additives, sugars, glycerol or other enhancements. Why should you care? All of those things lead to potential hangovers which means you can sip this vodka and know you should be in good spirits afterward.

Grey Goose

Kevin Moran, general manager at Seagar’s Prime Steaks & Seafood in South Walton, Florida

Grey Goose is certainly one of the most popular vodkas, but I feel it is also the best because it is one of the cleanest vodkas in terms of its flavor profile. Grey Goose is served best extra chilled with just a lemon twist or enjoyed “down and dirty” with a good dose of olive juice and garnished with our signature two blue cheese stuffed olives. Enjoying vodka “straight” is not such a thing in the spirits world. It’s often what you do to it that can make it really special.

Zubrowka

Josh Saphier, bartender at Eighteen36 in Houston

My favorite vodka is one not often found. I like Zubrowka. A Polish bison grass flavored vodka. Vodka is defined as flavorless, odorless, and colorless. This particular vodka has a single blade of bison grass in the bottle. Leaving subtle notes of citrus, cut grass, vanilla, and coconut.

Belvedere Black

Josh Streetman, bartender at Motor Supply Co. in Columbia, South Carolina

Here cleaner is better, but I like a little bite on the finish, so a rye base works well for me. Belvedere Black. Smooth, slightly spicy, and perfectly suited for sipping neat.

Steel Tie Vodka

Bryan Long, assistant director of food & beverages at Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa in Palm Beach, Florida

The best vodka would be Steel Tie Vodka. The best thing about this vodka is it’s distilled in our back yard using American grains and only distilling twice which allows you to taste the natural flavors.

Wodka

Nate Simmons, bartender at Garden & Grain in Pensacola, Florida

Wodka Vodka is a Polish vodka using Polish Rye and charcoal filtered. Clean and bright. Perfect with a cube of ice.

St. Roch Vodka

Mazzarie Parker, Bar Manager of Maypop Restaurant in New Orleans

I am not one to drink vodka straight. I much prefer gin in my martinis. If I am going to drink vodka it doesn’t need to be expensive to please. As long as it is smooth and chilled. Seven Threes Distillery Co. is a local distillery in New Orleans that did a great job with their five-times distilled St. Roch Vodka. St. Roch is a New Orleans neighborhood named for the Patron Saint of Good Health. Just as New Orleanians did in the late 1800’s when Yellow Fever hit the city, we should say a prayer to St. Roch as we sip our martinis in isolation.

Stolichnaya Elite

Zsolt Ducsai, food and beverage director at Serafina Beach Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico

Stolichnaya Elite. This Russian vodka was created from pure grain and very fine artesian water. They use special filtering through charcoal. And, as the Russian people say, it must be chilled. The best way is storing it in -18 degrees Celsius.

Beluga Transatlantic

Jake Larowe, bar manager at Birds and Bees in Los Angeles

My favorite brand that I would be happy to drink straight is Beluga. Specifically, their Transatlantic. It is subtle while still having flavor and a smooth viscous mouthfeel.

Carbonadi

Piero Procida, bartender at The London West Hollywood in Los Angeles

Carbonadi Italian Vodka. Yes, I said it, the Italians have surpassed the Russians here. Do not even think about mixing this is a drink with anything else. First of all, it’s expensive, but for a reason…to enjoy by itself. It’s pure heaven and you certainly do not want to alter any flavors here. Made from wheat and distilled five times using an ultra-rare filtration process that use Carbonados or “Black Diamonds,” which are incredibly absorbent and extract many impurities other processes cannot manage, making this a silky smooth and ultra-clean vodka. I think this vodka is probably the best out there right now.

Bolden

Alan Walter, spirit handler at Bar Loa in New Orleans

Bolden is my go-to sipping vodka. This vodka is distilled in New Orleans – European style. It is really the opposite of extreme filtering.

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