SpiritsWhat Makes Vodka So Versatile?

King of Cocktails Dale DeGroff gives us an overview of the versatility of vodka.

The King of Cocktails, Dale DeGroff, gives us an overview of the versatility of vodka.


This spirit is the nation drink of Russia and of Poland, with both countries producing distinguished varieties, some of which have existed since the Middle Ages. The spirit, for imbibers, can have surprising powers of intoxication, which, depending on strength can be considerable. Although vodkas form the base of many modern cocktails, today there are also a great many flavoured vodkas that have found favour as sipping drinks, including blackcurrant, cherry, apple, lemon, vanilla. For those on a true voyage of discovery, there is even a bacon-flavoured vodka, which makes an appearance in particular at the Double Down Saloon in Las Vegas and New York, which has been famous for the ‘Bacon Martini’ for over a decade.


Vodka is a phenomenal success story unprecedented in the spirits industry; in the United States it accounts for 28 percent of all distilled spirits consumed. How does a spirit relatively unknown for the first half of the 20th century rocket to such a heights? More importantly, how does one navigate this sea of brands to discern the real, the best, and the ones to serve. We rely on spirits and wines from trusted sources, Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée to use the French terminology. There are vodkas that represent ‘place’ just as brandies like Cognac and Calvados representative of their appellations. Elyx the super premium bottling from Absolut is produced from winter wheat from one estate in Sweden and all Absolut vodka draws water from one source that is so pure that aside from a particle filtration no other processing is needed. The two distilleries in Sweden produce all the Absolut sold worldwide.

Read more about the world’s greatest premium spirits, what’s new, and where to buy them via the pages of the new issue of Matthew Fort’s Drink Hamper magazine. Featuring special cocktail recipes from the Savoy, fine wine expertise from Selfridges, and a feast of fine food recipes from Matthew Fort. 

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