Short of drinking a spirit straight, it doesn’t get any simpler than the Vodka Soda. A neutral spirit paired with neutral bubbly, this Highball is the go-to drink for cocktail neophytes, those who are watching their waistline or anyone who just doesn’t want to wait more than 10 seconds to get a drink. But if your beloved Vodka Soda is starting to feel tired, give it a much-needed makeover. Here, five quick and easy ways to take the Vodka Soda to new heights.
Get a Better Vodka
Do not overlook the importance of choosing a good quality vodka for your Vodka Soda. The neutrality of this cocktail means the vodka has very little to hide behind, so choose a vodka that is good enough to sip straight. Despite being hailed as the “flavorless spirit,” vodka does have subtle flavor notes that can shine in a Vodka Soda. Brands like Wigle Trope or Belvedere are sweet and fruity, while Chopin Potato Vodka has a spicy taste and creamy mouthfeel. If you want to use a flavored vodka, avoid the crazy artificial flavors, and opt instead for something simple like a citrus vodka or, even better, a homemade infusion.
Trade out the Flavorless Soda
For an extra kick of personality, swap out the unflavored club soda for a subtly flavored craft soda. Some great, lightly flavored sodas include Joia’s Sparkling Pineapple Coconut Nutmeg soda, DRY Lavender soda and Fentimans Dandelion & Burdock soda.
Rinse the Glass With a Liqueur
Rinsing a glass means pouring a small amount of booze into an empty glass, swirling it around to coat the inside, and then emptying it out—ideally into your mouth. Doing so preps the glass with a hint of flavor that won’t overpower your Vodka Soda. Try a gentle fruity or floral liqueur, like La Combier orange liqueur, Giffard Pamplemousse or St-Germain elderflower liqueur.
Add Fresh Fruit
The traditional Vodka Soda garnish is a lime, but there are plenty of other fruits that offer an alternative zing. Try muddling berries or pineapple wedges in the bottom of the glass, or squeezing a grapefruit wedge over the cocktail before dropping it into the drink.
Garnish with Herbs
Garnishing a Vodka Soda with a sprig of fresh herbs gives the cocktail an aromatic boost. Mint is a natural fit for a lime-garnished Vodka Soda, but other great pairings include rosemary with a grapefruit wedge, or tarragon with a slice of tangerine. If you don’t have fresh herbs on hand, a few dashes of herbal bitters will do the trick and instantly elevate your cocktail.