VinePair is ringing in the Holiday Cheers with a spotlight on the bottles we’re gifting (and hoping to receive) and a look inside some of our favorite holiday traditions and recipes — from elevated eggnog to all things bubbly. Plus, we’ll be reflecting on the past year in the beverage industry and shifting our focus to the drinks trends we expect to see in 2022.
When it comes to gifting alcohol, it’s easy to overlook vodka. But what the clear spirit lacks in flavor, it makes up for in versatility. Vodka is a key ingredient in many of the world’s favorite and trendiest cocktails, including the Cosmopolitan, Espresso Martini, Bloody Mary, and more.
For cocktail lovers, vodka is an essential part of any bar cart — to be shaken or stirred into drinks or served ice cold in a shot glass. But there’s a new era of vodka distillers who are crafting the spirit specifically for sipping neat, meaning the options for memorable vodkas are ever-expanding.
From a striking bottle with celebrity status, to an elevated flavored offering, these are seven of the best vodkas to give to friends, family, and colleagues this year.
- Best value vodka: Broken Shed Vodka
- Best splurge vodka: Barr Hill Vodka
- Best vodka for beginners: Chopin Potato
- Best vodka for geeks: Belvedere Heritage 176
- Best vodka for cocktail lovers: Absolut Elyx
- Best vodka for the boss: Crystal Head
- Best flavored vodka: Hanson of Sonoma Meyer Lemon
Best Value Vodka
Broken Shed Vodka ($26)
Everything about this vodka is unusual. Instead of being made with grains, this bottling is made from whey protein, a byproduct of dairy production. It’s also distilled in New Zealand with water from local springs and mountain reservoirs. Clearly, this is a vodka that stands out from the rest. And at just over the $25 price point, it’s an affordable gift for anyone on your list.
Best Splurge Vodka
Barr Hill Vodka ($57)
Made from locally sourced honey from Vermont, Barr Hill vodka is rich with notes of flowers, sea water, and, of course, honey. It has a rich viscosity, making it ideal for sipping on its own or with a simple splash of soda and squeeze of lime. It’s a bit pricier than most vodkas on the shelf, but its uniqueness makes it well worth the spend.
Best Vodka For Beginners
Chopin Potato ($24)
Smooth and balanced, this is a rather neutral vodka, making it an ideal introduction into the category. Made in Poland from potatoes, Chopin has a creamy mouthfeel and full-bodied texture, allowing it to shine in Martinis and Vespers alike.
Best Vodka for Geeks
Belvedere Heritage 176 ($35)
Impress the geeks in your life with a spirit they’ve likely never tasted before. While this “vodka” isn’t technically labeled as such (call it a “spirit drink” if you wanna get technical), it can and should be used in the same way as any of the other bottles on this list. It’s made with 2 percent rye spirit, imparting a toasty, malty note that would be delightful mixed into a Gibson — or sipped on its own.
Best Vodka for Cocktail Lovers
Absolut Elyx ($35)
A bar cart staple, this is a solid vodka that would excel in almost any cocktail. It’s richly aromatic, with a bold character that holds up to myriad flavors — from citrus to olive brine. And its relatively high ABV (42.3 percent) allows for plenty of mixology experimentation without fear of the spirit getting lost among other bold ingredients.
Best Vodka for the Boss
Crystal Head ($47)
Founded by comedian Dan Aykroyd in 2008, Crystal Head is a Canadian-produced vodka known for its eye-catching bottle. The corn-based vodka, filtered through actual crystals, is bottled in glass, skull-shaped bottles. But don’t let that fool you into thinking Crystal Head is all gimmicks. The vodka inside the bottle is just as memorable as the “head” itself. Gift it to your boss, and you’ll be sure to make an impression.
Best Flavored Vodka
Put aside your preconceptions about flavored spirits, and taste this elegant, aromatic vodka. Its citrus-forward profile is balanced by a subtle peppery spice, adding complexity to a spirit that’s often discounted for its simplicity. Though this is undoubtedly a vodka, its bright character is reminiscent of gin, making it the ideal spirit to use in a Martini with a twist.