6 Delicious Ways to Use Vodka
Got a bottle of vodka on hand? Probably. Skip the shooters and try your hand at these grown-up ways to sip the spirit in cocktails, food, and more.
There’s nothing wrong with a simple vodka-soda, but since vodka is one of the most mixable spirits, we’re all about using it in cocktails with more complex flavors.
Paros Pear Martini
Recipe courtesy Kamal Kouiri, wine director, Molyvos, New York City
2 tablespoons sugar
2 ounces Double Cross Vodka
1 ounces Matilde Poire, or another pear liqueur
2 ounces pear sorbet
Splash of simple syrup
Dried pear, for garnish
Pour the sugar into a dish or shallow bowl. Moisten the edge of a coupe glass, then roll the edge in the sugar to coat the rim. Set the glass in the freezer to chill.
In a cocktail shaker, combine vodka, Matilde Poire, pear sorbet and simple syrup with ice. Shake until the drink develops a froth, then strain into the prepared glass. Garnish with a dried pear.
The Green Manalishi
Recipe courtesy Ergys Dizdari, mixologist, Filini Bar & Restaurant, Chicago
Italian parsley and parsley sprig
3 cucumber slices
2 ounces Tito’s vodka
¾ ounces lemon juice
¾ ounces simple syrup
In a cocktail shaker, muddle the parsley and cucumber slices. Add the remaining ingredients and ice. Shake well, and double strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a parsley sprig.
Back Stabbin’ Betty
Recipe courtesy Christina Rando, bartender, Brick and Mortar, Philadelphia
1 ounce vodka
1 ounce Lillet Rosé
¾ ounce lemon juice
¾ ounce simple syrup
1 dash Peychaud’s Bitters
lemon wheel, for garnish
In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine vodka, Lillet Rosé, lemon juice, simple syrup and bitters. Shake well and strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice. Garnish with a lemon wheel.
Photo by Paul Johnson
Hanalei Sun (aka Pineapple-Infused vodka)
Recipe courtesy Julie Reiner, author, The Craft Cocktail Party
Named after Hanalei Bay (pronounced hawn-ah-lay) on the north side of Kauai, this drink needs a few days to steep for maximum flavor. Unlike most infusions, this drink is intended to be the finished cocktail—no additional mixing required. It makes 3 cups, enough for 7 drinks.
1 pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 750-ml bottle of vodka or white rum
Pineapple wedges, for garnish
Place the pineapple pieces and the vodka or rum in a large glass container with a lid. Cover and let sit in the refrigerator for 1 week, stirring it once a day.
At the end of the week, strain the liquid through a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl, allowing the fruit to sit in the strainer for 30 minutes to get all the liquid.
Discard the fruit and funnel infusion back into the original bottle and label. The infusion will keep for 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
Pour 3½ ounces of the pineapple infusion into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until chilled and strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with a pineapple wedge.
Photo by Daniel Krieger
Sure, you’ve heard of penne a la vodka, but here are two more ways to use the spirit in the kitchen.
Recipe courtesy Adair Scott, chef, Watermark Beach Resorts Wine & Tapas Bar, Vancouver, BC
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup kosher or pickling salt
2 large center-cut salmon fillets, 1 pound. each, skin on
½ cup chopped fresh dill
¼ cup vodka
Start curing your gravlax 3 days before you plan to serve it.
Lightly toast the coriander seeds in a small frying pan. Allow to cool, crush in a mortar and pestle. In a small bowl, mix the coriander with pepper, sugar and salt, and set aside.
Prepare two long pieces of plastic wrap, each about 2 feet long. Lay the plastic across a large glass-baking dish.
Sprinkle half the dill all over the skin side of the salmon and place the fillets side-by-side in the center of the plastic wrap, skin side down.
Press spice mixture evenly all over both sides of the fish and drizzle with vodka. Sprinkle the remaining dill over the fleshy side of the salmon. Wrap the plastic tightly around the salmon and place a plate on top. Place in the refrigerator and let sit for 3 days, turning once or twice a day, and draining any accumulated liquids if necessary.
When ready, unwrap the fish, discard any liquids and brush off most of the dill. Serve sliced very thin with pumpernickel rounds and crème fraîche. Serves 10–12 as an appetizer.
Tipsy Watermelon Salad
Recipe courtesy Virginia Willis, author, Bon Appétit, Y’all: Recipes and Stories from Three Generations of Southern Cooking
Spiking watermelon with vodka is an old trick, but the crème de cassis—a liqueur made from black currants—elevates this salad to the extraordinary.
1 (6-pound) watermelon, halved lengthwise
1 cup lemon juice
⅔ cup sugar
½ cup vodka
⅓ cup crème de cassis
Pinch of fine sea salt
¼ cup chopped fresh mint
To prepare the watermelon, use a large ice cream scoop and remove the watermelon flesh from the rind. Place the balls in a large bowl. Reserve a watermelon rind half to use as a serving bowl.
To make the dressing, whisk the lemon juice and sugar together in a bowl until the sugar dissolves. Add the vodka and crème de cassis and whisk. Season the mixture with a pinch of salt. Pour the mixture over the watermelon, and gently stir to combine and coat the balls. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 1–2 hours.
When ready to serve, gently toss the watermelon balls once again to redistribute the liquid. Transfer them to the reserved watermelon “bowl.” Sprinkle with chopped fresh mint. Serves 6–8.
- 1Shake Up a Vodka Cocktail
- 2Make a Vodka Infusion
- 3Cook with Vodka