17 Vodka Cocktails You'll Want to Make Again and Again

pomegranate cosmo cocktail drink
Photo: Bryan Gardner

Vodka is essential to a well-stocked home bar. The smooth, easy-to-quaff liquor plays well in classic cocktails like martinis, gimlets, and vodka tonics, as well as cosmos, and all kinds of other fruity libations from frappés to spiked lemonade. Our favorite vodka cocktail recipes would be welcome at any happy hour.

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A bottle of good vodka can be all you need. Well, no, not like that. But if you wanted to pare down your alcohol collection to the bare but most creative minimum, vodka earns its spot on that short list. The white-hot liquor's translatable nature gives you the freedom to shake or stir a diverse range of season- and mood-specific drinks. When blended with judiciously chosen ingredients, vodka can be pleasingly refreshing or winter-warming. To illustrate its range, we have gathered our best vodka cocktail recipes to convince you.

A purist could argue that a shot of viscously cold vodka is unimprovable in its clear austerity. (Especially sipped in the company of smorgasbord-y smoked fish and a snowy day outside.) But we have many appetites and vodka is good at playing along. Of course there's the vodka Martini, pictured here, a classic that needs no introduction. Our clear vodka Gimlet would please that purist—almost as ascetic in appearance, it offers the additional pucker of lime juice. Just-pressed citrus juices and citrus syrups with vodka are indispensable in many vodka cocktails—they refresh and counter its peppery heat.

Darker juices with tannic backbone, like cranberry and pomegranate, are excellent flavor-matches but also add the sparkle of vivid color (harder-to-find sour cherry or currant juices are wonderful substitutes). Ripe peaches, perfect melons, juicy strawberries, in-season blackberries, and summer cucumbers? Yes. And bring on the herbs, like fresh marjoram and mint. Bold spices alter the mood of the cocktail: fennel, start anise, and ginger are warming and amplify vodka's fiery side. Coffee works wonders.

Let's sip.

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Lemon Drop

meyer lemon drop martini
Bryan Gardner

Ultra-simple and highly refined, the lemon drop is mixed with a hint of heady Cointreau, whose rich citrus zest sweetness sings through the fresh lemon juice. Meyer lemons bring a touch of tangerine fragrance to the drink, so seek them out in season.

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White Russian

white russian drinks on countertop
Bryan Gardner

In lieu of dessert, a classic White Russian pleases everyone, combining the after-dinner comfort of coffee with cream. For a wilder twist, substitute Amarula for the Kahlua, to conjure up a trip to Africa.

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Spiced Orange Aperitif

orange cocktail
Bryan Gardner

The secret to signature cocktails often lies in an easy but distinctive infused syrup. Here, the aromas of fennel seeds and star anise add complexity to the drink poured with fresh orange and lemon juices over crushed ice.

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Spiked Elderflower Lemonade


The fragrance of an elderflower cordial invites summer celebration in this refreshing party-ready sipper. Lemon juice and thin rounds of the citrus infuse the drink with acid and oils, while seltzer lowers the alcohol content, allowing you to have another.

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Pomegranate Cosmopolitan

pomegranate cosmo cocktail drink
Bryan Gardner

The mineral flavors of tart, unsweetened pomegranate juice are offset by the syrupy perfume of Cointreau in a delectable riff on a classic Cosmo.

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Cranberry Mule

christmas mule cocktail
Emily Kate Roemer

An easy cranberry and lime zest syrup combines sweetness, tannins, and citrus oils to mix up with vodka, fresh lime juice, and a dash of effervescent ginger beer. This is an excellent cocktail to serve, pitcher-style, at a party, Make ahead and add the ginger beer just before serving.

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Moscow Mule

Emily Kate Roemer

Lime juice is essential in this classic cocktail, it counteracts the spiced sweetness of ginger ale in our super-chilled Moscow Mule.

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Peach-and-Mint Frappes

Matthew Williams

We like to think of this recipe as a boozy smoothie. The juiciest farmers' market peaches are blended with vibrant mint and the heat of vodka. If you like an edge to your summer tipple, add a squeeze of lemon juice.

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Vodka Gimlet

vodka gimlet in glass
Bryan Gardner

A classic, vodka and lime juice—in almost equal measure —create a bracing cocktail softened by just a touch of sugar.

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Strawberry-Ginger Caipiroska

strawberry ginger caipiroska drink in glass
Julia Gartland

Adding the intense spice of freshly microplaned ginger to the sweetness of strawberries distinguishes this minty caipiroska from its more reserved parent (which is just vodka with mint).

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Coconut-Water Vodka Cocktail

Jen Causey

Lots of coconut water, a little vodka. To make the most of your orange peel, macerate it in the vodka for a few minutes before stirring the restorative ingredients together.

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Vodka-Mocha Cocktail

vodka-mocha cocktail in martini glass
Aaron Dyer

You had us at dark chocolate. Add a shot of espresso, and whipped cream? Dessert is suddenly sippable. Be sure to chop the chocolate very finely to draw out the most flavor.

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Mint, Cucumber, and Vodka Cocktails


Cucumber and vodka seem to belong together–recalling that Eastern European-style, anytime snack. Adding a substantial handful of mint brings a delightful herbal freshness to this tall drink, which makes a perfect compliment to spicy food.

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Spiked Blackberry-Marjoram Limeade


In an unexpected purée, market-fresh blackberries are blended with marjoram, lime juice, vodka, and sugar to make an easily-mixed cocktail whose recipe everyone will want. Make ahead and stir up well just before mixing.

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Melon Mule

melon mule cocktail

Flavored melon vodka is the quickest way to make this summery mule, but you can create your own by chopping the sweetest melon you can find and macerating it for six hours in an equal amount of vodka. Strain, and pour. Delicious

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Pom Sunrise


Tangerine juice, vodka, and Angostura bitters are shaken and poured first into a cocktail glass. To create the sunsational effect, moody red pomegranate juice follows. Don't forget the tangerine peel—it adds a touch of botanical bitterness.

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