Even if you’re not a bartender by trade, you’ll agree nothing’s easier to make (or drink!) than a vodka cocktail. However, if you’re simply adding seltzer, cranberry juice or OJ, it might be time to branch out a little.
To help you break out of your cocktail rut, we caught up with top mixologists about ways you can literally shake up your vodka drinking this summer. An added bonus: Compared to most other spirits (ahem, tequila), vodka’s essentially flavorless, which means it’ll pair well with a pretty massive selection of ingredients. Seriously: Pistachio, mint, and ginger are just some of the the creative extras these guys want you to try.
Ahead, six New York bartenders share their signature vodka recipes. Cheers!
Texas Porch Sipper by Shane Tison at Randolph Broome and Randolph Brooklyn
Ingredients: Pinch of mint, 1-2 blackberries, 3/4 oz lemon juice, 3/4 oz honey syrup, 2 oz Tito's vodka.
How: Muddle mint, blackberries, lemon juice, and honey syrup in a collins glass. Add 2 oz of Tito's vodka and fill Collins glass 3/4 with crushed ice. Use bar spoon or swizzle stick and mix. Top with crushed ice and form into a cone. Garnish with mint sprig.
Mixologist tip: Stirring on crushed ice keeps the drink cold from start to finish, so don't skip this step. A summer plump blackberry is almost sweet enough to leave out the honey, so sometimes it's better just to use one.
Thyme Is On My Side by David Perrine at Wild Horse Tavern
Ingredients: 2 oz vodka, 3/4 oz fresh lemon juice, 3/4 oz agave syrup, 2 sprigs fresh thyme
How: Muddle thyme, add all ingredients to shaker, shake with ice. Double strain into coupe glass. Garish by floating a small sprig of fresh thyme in the center of the drink
Mixologist tip: This drink is great to impress guests at a summer get together. It's a light and refreshing cocktail--but not too sweet.
Strawberry Layla by Jimmy Dunn at Dempsey's
Ingredients: Strawberries, basil, lime, agave syrup, vodka.
How: Muddle strawberries, basil, fresh lime juice and agave syrup to taste. Next add 3 oz Titos Vodka and shake. Garnish with a fresh strawberry and basil leaf.
Mixologist tip: We love this served in a mason jar and poured over ice. It's refreshing and has a nice balance of simple summer ingredients.
The Ginger Rodgers by Brent Lamberti at elit by Stoli
Ingredients: 1.5 oz elit vodka, .75 oz ginger syrup, .75 oz lemon juice, 2-3 muddled strawberries.
How: Muddle the strawberries in the bottom of a mixing glass. Add the other ingredients with ice and then shake. Fine strain into a chilled martini glass.
Mixologist tip: Garnish with a piece of ginger.
French Mule by Carlos Vasquez at Artisanal Bistro
Ingredients: 1.5oz vodka, 0.5 oz fresh squeezed lime juice, 1/4 oz agave nectar, 3/4 oz Lejay Cassis,
How: Shake all of the ingredients, then pour over crushed ice, add a springs of mint, a splash of ginger beer, and two black berries.
Mixologist tip: Since you don't have to muddle any ingredients, this is simple and easy cocktail to make on a hot summer day.
Pistachio Mule by Jeremy Strawn at Lazy Point
Ingredients: 2 oz pistachio-infused Reyka vodka. .75 oz fresh squeezed lime juice, .75 oz simple syrup, .5 oz, fresh ginger juice
How: Shake and strain all ingredients into a glass, add ice and top with splash of soda water. Garnish with lemon or lime wedge.
Mixologist tip: Infusing the unique and bold flavors of pistachio with vodka is a natural fit--to do it add 6 oz pistachio shells (raw, unsalted) to a bottle of vodka and allow the shells to infuse for a minimum of 24 hours. Strain out the solids.