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The best top-shelf vodka to drink straight or in a martini

Vodka is often the wrong spirit, ostracized from cocktails and overlooked as something worth sipping right in. But the chilled vodka on the top shelf is paired caviar? This is an exceptional pairing for special occasions. In fact, the key to finding the best vodka on the top shelf has nothing to do with price. There are a lot of goodies swirling around the $20-$30 range. In fact, some of our spirits experts refer to Tito ($18) and Kettle One ($19) as their favorite vodka. Finding high-quality vodka comes down to applying some skepticism to the number of times it has been distilled and scanning the ingredient label.

“I look for companies that don’t promote things like ’10 times distilled! ‘ says Kim Haasarud, President Bartenders Guild of the United States and the owner Garden Bar In Phoenix, Arizona. If vodka needed to be distilled 10 times, what started with a product that took so much work to make smooth? Three times, maybe four times, should be more than enough to actually improve the quality of a product, she says.

Another general rule of thumb when perusing the aisles of your local liquor store: Generally, a nice bottle of vodka contains only two or three ingredients, says spirits expert Zach King, bar manager at koryo, inside the Denver Central Market in Denver, Colorado.

Vodka is a neutral grain spiritAnd while you don’t experience flavor in other spirits, Hassarod adds, you can still get some mouth-watering nuances and taste.

Here, spirits connoisseurs share their favorite vodkas that deserve a place in your bar cart.

Chopin Family Reserve

Chopin Family Reserve photo courtesy

1. Chopin Vodka

“Potato vodka is unique in its fresh, earthy aroma and creamy mouthfeel,” Hasrod says. For a strong introduction to strong potato vodka, Haasarud recommends Chopin Potato Vodka. It has a long, clean finish, and you can count on it to be your new choice of martini with olives. For your top shelf, Chopin also sells a premium potato vodka called Chopin Family Reserve, which is made from young potatoes and aged in Polish oak barrels for two years. This vodka standby contains licorice leaves and cloves.

[$33-$130; chopinvodka.com]

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Nyka coffee vodka bottle.
photo courtesy

2. Nika Coffee Vodka

You have enough Russian bottles in your bar cart. Make room for smooth vodka from – trust us on this – Japan. Nika coffee vodka It has a base of corn and barley, King says, both of which are distilled separately and then blended together. The secret to its insane smoothness is thanks to the tried-and-true distillation process: Nikka makes vodka the same way they produce award-winning whiskey, then filters it through white birch charcoal. “There’s a faint note of peach and a bit of mint,” he says. It’s smooth on its own, but works well in a vodka tonic, too.

[$40; flaviar.com]

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Stolichnaya Elite Vodka

Stolichnaya Elite Vodka photo courtesy

3. Stolichnaya Elit Vodka

Stolichnaya Elite FoodA makes the trip right before it reaches your bar cart. The grain comes from the fertile black soil of the Russian Tambov region. Once the spirit is distilled, it travels to Latvia, where it mixes with artesian well water. Then, it is filtered through ultrafine quartz sand and Russian birch charcoal. Finally it goes through signature freeze filtration at -64°F. The result? says Elvis Mendes, Beverage Director at Mr. French, New York City. “I love it on the rocks and usually serve it with a lime wheel.”

[$40; reservebar.com]

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A bottle of vodka double cross.
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4. Double Churros Vodka

For another solid plate, Mendes recommends Double Cross Vodka, made with winter wheat and water from an aquifer 200 feet under the Tatras in Slovakia. “Lots of pepper and sweet notes linger on the first sip, and follow with silky, citrusy tones that make for a great afternoon,” says Mendes.

[$30; doublecrossvodka.com]

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Belvedere vodka

Belvedere vodka photo courtesy

5. Belvedere

Traditional Old World vodka produced in Eastern Europe’s “Vodka Belt” is a favorite of Tony Abu Ghanem, author of distilled vodka and partner in social freedom At Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada. He recommends Belvedere, which is often credited for its leadership in the premium quality vodka category. “It’s an old-world style with the big rye character standing and taking notice,” says Abu Ghanem, who is also a life member of the Bartenders Guild of the United States. He recommends drinking Old World vodka clean, straight from the freezer, with smoked or pickled fish, rich cheeses, and caviar.

[$40; drizly.com]

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Arbikie Haar Vodka bottle.
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6. Arbikie her vodka

The Arbikie Highland Estate distillery is located on the east coast of Scotland, overlooking the Gulf of Lunan. Noun her vodka It comes from the coastal fog that often obscures the distillery. Made from Zulu wheat, it is creamy, complex and pressed. Ektoras Binikos, co-owner and head of the laboratory department at sugar monk In Harlem, New York, he loves this vodka because it’s smooth and delicate with notes of pine nuts, thyme, moist black moss, and a hint of vanilla. “It would make a killer martini and pair well with smoked salmon, lox, or caviar,” he says. Arbikie also makes a file strawberry vodka That might change your mind about flavored vodka.

[$43; thewhiskyexchange.com]

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Bottle of Hangar 1 Fog Point Vodka.
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7. Vodka Hangar 1 Mist

This Hangar 1 bottle isn’t just upscale vodka, it’s a conversation starter. “As the name suggests, the famous California fog turns into water, which is then used to produce vodka,” says mixologist Timo Torner of Cocktail Association. The mist-to-bottle vodka has notes of pear, citrus, and honeysuckle and is a sophisticated palette.

[$140; hangarone.com]

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