18 Best Vodka Brands to Sip Straight, on the Rocks or in a Craft Cocktail

·13 min read

Whether you choose to display your vodka bottles neatly on a bar cart, or chilled in your freezer, the first objective is selection over the arrangement. With over 82+ different vodka options from all over the world, narrowing down the choices to the best vodkas and best vodka brands can be overwhelming. So, allow us to do the grunt work for you with a little vodka intel.

What is Vodka?

Vodka is a clear distilled alcohol that was originally of European origin, thanks to countries like Poland, Sweden and Russia first producing the popular liquor. Vodka is mostly made up of water and fermented cereal grains (rye, wheat, barley, rice and corn, etc.), but it can also be distilled from potatoes, quinoa, grapes, apples—even milk.

There are top-shelf vodkas, expensive, luxury vodka brands, cheap (yet good) vodkas, flavored vodkas and then there are the best vodkas. Whether you're making Bloody Marys, Moscow Mules or Cosmopolitans, vodka is a key component to mastering these drinks, and these 18 best vodkas at every price point are well suited for the job. Prefer your vodka neat? No problem! There are plenty of smooth sipping vodkas included below.

Which is the Best-Selling Vodka in the World?

Smirnoff. Smirnoff is known for its many varied flavors, affordable price, and approachable smooth taste, which makes it the #1 best-selling vodka amongst college kids and adults alike.

How Many Calories Are in Vodka?

Clear spirits need to be much lower in calories, which is why vodka and tequila Blanco are often ordered by anyone looking to imbibe without as much guilt. There are approximately 97 calories per jigger-measured shot of 80-proof vodka. And obviously, that cal count goes up with added mixers, fruit and such.

From potato and grain-based vodkas, to corn, grape, and whey vodkas, these distilled spirits are the most ordered—and most enjoyed—by vodka lovers far and wide. Here's what makes them iconic.

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Best Vodka Brands

Grey Goose Vodka, $25+

Hailing from France, Grey Goose Vodka gets props for being synonymous with exceptional quality, under the direction of longtime Cellar Master Francois Thibault. Their top-shelf vodka recipe for success has remained unchanged since the brand’s conception and is comprised of just two ingredients: single origin Picardie wheat and spring water from their natural well in Gensac-la-Pallue. And you can taste the distinction—from crop to cork, which makes the Goose a go-to choice for bartenders worldwide. As for flavors and "essences," there are quite a few. Strawberry & Lemongrass, Watermelon & Basil and White Peach & Rosemary round out the list of vodkas infused with real fruit and botanical essences, while La Poire, L’Orange and Le Citron are their classic three flavors. Grey Goose Vodka, $25+

Related: 20 Fun Drinking Games for Every Occasion

Chopin Vodka, $27+

Chopin single-handedly spearheaded the potato vodka movement. As the world's first rested, super-premium young potato vodka, it's also gluten-free and meant to be sipped chilled neat, on the rocks or in craft cocktails. And while many vodkas on this list can be defined as "clean," Chopin's definitely more taste-forward with notes of licorice and clove, enveloped in a subtle sweetness. That sweetness is due to the fact that the potatoes that were planted back in 2016, were harvested when they were still young, producing a sweeter profile with earthy notes. Which makes Chopin and Bloody Marys a match made in heaven. Even Vera Wang is a mega fan; the celebrated fashion designer launched the first fashion-vodka collaboration ever in the U.S. with Chopin Vera Wang Vodka. Chopin Vodka, $150

Belvedere Vodka, $40+

80-proof Belvedere Pure Vodka is crafted by Master Rye Distillers in accordance with a 600-year-old recipe that dates back to 1910 (no big deal) and is comprised of Polish rye and purified water, then quadruple distilled by fire. It's void of sugar, additives and gluten, and is considered to be the first super-premium vodka in the world. Upon first sip you might detect notes of vanilla, white pepper and spices—or perhaps clotted cream. Enjoy it on the rocks, or in a martini like celeb fans Kris Jenner and Kathy Hilton prefer. Fun fact: Belvedere is named after Belweder, the Polish presidential palace in Warsaw. Belvedere Vodka, $25+

Triple Eight Blueberry Vodka, $26+

Founded by the owners of Nantucket craft brewery Cisco in 1997, Triple Eight Distillery is the nautical Northeast’s first craft distillery. Named after Well #888, the distillery’s pristine water source, Triple 8 handcrafts all of its spirits and liqueurs in small batches using only natural ingredients, like locally-sourced blueberries. The distillery’s former motto, “hard stuff that’s hard to get,” has fortunately changed and now one of their most popular vodkas—Blueberry—is available nationwide. The inky blue hue comes from a heavy dosing of blueberries infused into their classic spirit and possesses a strong blueberry nose, sweet flavor and smooth finish. Triple Eight Blueberry Vodka, $26+

Absolut Elyx Vodka, $45+

Absolut Elyx is Absolut's big sister if you will. The more luxury version of its namesake, Elyx is made from single estate winter wheat and the finest water from Sweden, drawn from a pristine aquifer, then passed through a vintage copper column still from 1921. The result is exceptionally refined vodka that's crafted entirely at the hand of the Master Distiller—without the use of computers. A very rare vodka-making feat these days. The copper theme runs deep throughout the entire brand as well, as evidenced by cheeky drinking vessels like the Elyx Copper Pineapple of Hospitality and Felix the Gnome of Elyx. Absolut Elyx Vodka, $45+

Humboldt Organic Vodka, $22

Humboldt Organic Vodka happens to be California's #1 selling organic vodka for its tasting notes of vanilla and citrus, with a slight hint of butterscotch. Made from a sugar-cane base, expect super crisp, super clean vodka that's smooth enough to sip and perfect for cocktails. Another reason Californians love it? Inspired by Humboldt County's best-known commodity, Humboldt's Finest is a unique, hemp-infused vodka that drinks like a gin, but without the juniper. Think of it like a bright, herbal spirit that's legal in all 50 states. Humboldt Organic Vodka and Humboldt's Finest Hemp-Infused Vodka, $22-25

Ketel One Vodka, $30

When it comes to Ketel One Vodka, it's all about the 4Fs: Fragrance, Flavor, Feel and Finish. These are what makes Ketel One so unique, and the fact that they are the OG of copper pot stills. Netherlands-born Ketel One Vodka is named after the original copper pot still, "Distilleerketel #1," which automatically makes them cooler. It's not just Dutch for smooth after all. Distilled from 100% wheat, filtered over loose charcoal and rested in tile-lined tanks until ready, Ketel One just hits different. Ketel One Vodka, $30

NEFT Vodka, $25

Never heard of NEFT? Here are three reasons this premium Austrian vodka should be on your radar. 1. NEFT is the only rye-based vodka distilled in Austria using pure Alps spring water (that's actually available in the U.S.).  2. Their one-of-a-kind barrel is not only lightweight, portable and unbreakable, but it's heat resistant so your vodka can stay chilled up to six hours under any conditions. 3. Their unique distillation process is on par with that of barrel-aged spirits—they employ a very gentle and minimalist process combined with an organic and carbon filtration system, to ensure that the pleasing flavors and aromas of the ingredients always shine through. Last by not least, did we mention their mini barrels are TSA approved? Sky-high happy hour just got a whole lot smoother. NEFT Vodka, $25

Crystal Head Vodka, $50

Even if you've seen this unmistakable skull head when pursuing the vodka aisle at your local liquor store, you might not know the big names behind Crystal Head: actor Dan Aykroyd and artist John Alexander. The duo designed the iconic bottle as a symbol of life when they created the company and thus, Crystal Head Vodka was born. Using only the highest-quality ingredients and pristine water from Newfoundland, Canada, their vodka is 100% additive-free, but here's the real kicker—as a final touch, it's filtered through layers of Herkimer Diamonds. Because, why not? Really though, this step is their not-so-secret weapon for super-smooth vodka. Choose from the Original (made from locally sourced Canadian corn), Aurora (crafted from English wheat) and Onyx (which is Blue Weber Agave sourced from a single farm in Mexico). Crystal Head Vodka, $50

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King St. Vodka, $30

Leave it to Kate Hudson to create the first female-led craft vodka brand, King St. Vodka, when she saw a massive void of female leadership in the industry. You've most likely seen Hudson whipping up dirty martinis for her famous friends on Instagram, but we're big fans of this seriously pretty vodka for its crazy clean DNA. Made with alkaline water and gluten-free corn, it's distilled seven times for purity in Santa Barbara and has a 43% ABV to boot (most vodkas average 40% ABV). So thank you for that, Kate. King St. Vodka, $30

GlenPharmer Vodka, $31+

GlenPharmer Distillery is a full-production “grain-to-glass” distillery (mashing, cooking, fermenting, distilling, barreling and bottling) that believes in better liquor through chemistry, and prides themselves on using the finest natural ingredients for their three vodkas: GlenPharmer Distillery Vodka, GlenPharmer Distillery Bog (vodka infused with fresh, locally-grown cranberries) and GlenPharmer Distillery Ghost (vodka infused with locally-grown ghost peppers). Produced by a team of veteran distillers, their best-selling Ghost vodka has already nabbed awards such as the Double Gold Medal for Certified Craft Distilled Spirit and Best of Category for Flavored Vodka from the American Distilling Institute. And if you happen to live near Franklin, MA, you can always visit their distillery-restaurant for a complete tasting. GlenPharmer Vodka, $31+

EFFEN Vodka, $20+

EFFEN's seven flavored vodkas are 100% wheat and chill-distilled, plus carbon filtered, for an unparalleled texture that makes EFFEN drinkers EFFEN loyalists. And we can see why. The ultra-premium vodka from Holland has some of the best-tasting vodka flavors on the market. The arguable hero of their liquid lineup, Blood Orange, plus Cucumber, Raspberry, Green Apple, Yuzu Citrus and Black Cherry, which earn high marks for craftsmanship and flavor. There's even Effen Vodka Rosé and a Pride 365 Edition that benefits Allies in Arts. EFFEN Vodka, $20+

American Liquor Co. Vodka, $24

Meet American Liquor Co. Vodka, the first-ever 4-crop vodka blend made from locally-grown Midwest winter wheat, light rye, Rio Grande potato and white corn. Vodka enthusiasts (and best friends) William Brumder and Michael Slapp set out to create a distinctly American spirit that could stand out in a neutral, yet crowded, category and they succeeded with a clean, yet complex vodka. First, you taste the wheat, with berry fruit notes; then comes the corn, which adds a velvety, buttery mouthfeel; next, you get the rye, which tastes a lot like the peppery grain itself; and finally, the potato adds a grassy earthiness that’s full, rounded and creamy. Mix with dry vermouth for a crisp martini or sip it straight for vodka with layers of depth. Shop American Liquor Co. Vodka, $24

Cîroc Vodka, $18+

Cîroc may be known as "Diddy's vodka," but the Diageo-owned brand may be the most unique vodka on this list. Yes, Sean Combs is a partner (we've all seen the ads. and the parties. and the commercials.), but the brand wouldn't be where it is today if it wasn't for quality. Cîroc Vodka is made from grapes from the Charente-Maritime region of France (instead of potatoes or grain), giving it a slightly sweet, medium-bodied flavor profile. Couple that with charcoal filtering and you have a one-of-a-kind vodka that's unlike its competitors. There are currently seven Cîroc flavors that range from French Vanilla and Coconut to Red Berry and Mango, but they're constantly debuting limited-edition bottles like this summer's Summer Citrus, White Grape and Summer Watermelon varietals. Cîroc Vodka, $18+

Related: 32 Girly Cocktails for the Ultimate Girls' Night In

Tito's Vodka, $13+

Much to the dismay of his critics, Bert Butler "Tito" Beveridge II founded one of the smoothest, best-selling vodka brands in the world, straight out of Austin, Texas no less. Around the mid-nineties, Beveridge disrupted the vodka industry with his corn-based, gluten-free Tito’s Handmade Vodka. He may have been on the verge of bankruptcy, maxing out 19 credit cards to the tune of about $88,000, but he was able to produce "a vodka that was so smooth you could drink it straight” in what would become Texas' oldest legal distillery. Tito's is famous for its taste (which comes from being distilled six times in old-fashioned pot stills) and Beveridge is famous for his epic story—and becoming one of the richest men in the world, with a net worth of $4.6 billion and counting. Everyone wins. Tito's Vodka, $13+

Altair Vodka, $49+

You know what they say about quality over quantity... Altair Vodka is handcrafted at 100-year-old monastery turned boutique hotel and distillery, The Hudson House, using naturally soft waters from their artesian well that's fed by a catskill aquifer. As if that's not reason enough to switch to this American-made vodka (even the glass for their bottles is produced in Pennsylvania, not China), here's one more: they're supporting New York State farmers with the purchase of non-GMO, locally-sourced corn which gets micro distilled a whopping 12 times for superior, limited-batch taste. Altair is pure and perfect on its own—or taken to the next level in a bone dry martini. Altair Vodka, $49+

Broken Shed Vodka, $22+

Tito's may have been one of the first pioneers to start labeling vodka "gluten-free," but let's be honest: corn isn't that healthy—or that great for you. That's where Broken Shed enters the playing field. Because their vodka is distilled from sustainable whey, it could be the most health-conscious vodka yet. Broken Shed is crafted through a blend of two distinct water sources from New Zealand and the resulting vodka is all-natural with no added sugars or additives. It's both gluten and GMO-free and sourced from grass-fed cows, so if it's not already on your radar, it's only a matter of time before it will be. Broken Shed Vodka, $22+

SVEDKA Vodka, $10+

When you think of SVEDKA, fruity flavors most likely come to mind. To be fair, it has loads of them and fruit-tastic blends are released all the time—the most recent being Cherry Limeade. The Swedish vodka brand is synonymous with a party personality—and an affordable price point of $8 to $22—but don't sleep on SVEDKA Original. American corn powers this top-selling vodka (that's distilled four times) for a taste that works in every type of cocktail. And if you don't feel like crafting your own, they now offer ready-to-drink SVEDKA Vodka Sodas in petite cans. SVEDKA Vodka, $10+

Up next, 30 crazy-good holiday cocktails.

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