A Vodka Soda is a deceptively simple cocktail to make. But there is a wrong way to mix vodka with seltzer—and your choice of vodka or seltzer will wildly change the final outcome of the cocktail. Here, how to make the best Vodka Soda every time.
Use Good Vodka
The worst thing that you can do to your Vodka Soda is use a low-quality spirit as the base. As the centerpiece of the cocktail, the vodka should be good quality—something you wouldn’t mind drinking straight. For peppery, more savory Vodka Sodas, use a rye-based spirit like Belvedere or Square One. For a creamier, softer cocktail, use a wheat-based vodka like Absolut or Ketel One.
Don’t Sleep on Good Soda Water
Not only are some seltzers flatter than others, but some brands add salt to their water. Q, for example, adds a touch of saline to their club soda. While using soda water with added salt can make a Vodka Soda more thirst-quenching, it doesn’t necessarily work with all vodkas. Our personal favorite is Fever Tree, which has a higher level of carbonation and tighter bubbles.
The Ice You Use Matters
The ice that you use for your Vodka Soda will determine how quickly the cocktail dilutes. It is crucial to remember that a Vodka Soda is composed of 90 percent water, so you don’t need to add any more H2O to your drink—especially flat, melted ice water. While you can get away with using generic freezer ice, using crushed ice for a Highball is an absolute no-no. The best ice to use is large cubed ice (opt for a one-by-one-inch cube silicone mold). It will melt slowly and keep your cocktail colder and fizzier longer.
There Is a Right Way to Build a Vodka Soda
Whatever you do, never make a Vodka Soda by adding ice to a highball glass first and then topping it with vodka and seltzer. There is a better method that will help maintain the integrity of the ice. Start by pre-chilling your glass in the freezer. When the glass has developed a cloudy frost, remove it from the freezer and add your vodka to the glass (we also store our vodka in the freezer). The standard pour is two ounces but, for a lighter, more refreshing Vodka Soda ideal for warm weather drinking, use only 1.5 ounces of vodka. Then, place the cubes of ice in the glass and, finally, top with seltzer and stir with a bar spoon.
Use Lemon Not Lime
We’re going to be completely honest; this is a totally arbitrary rule. Much like using only one or three olives in your Martini (never, ever two), this rule of thumb is based more on superstition and bartender tradition than fact. If you want to use a lime in your Vodka Soda at home, be our guest. But if you’re out at a bar, know that you should get a lemon. If you don’t, you’ll have bad bar luck for seven years—or something like that.