We get why you love the classic Vodka Soda—it’s easy, refreshing and quickly upgradable when you add fresh fruits or herbs. But because life is all about adventure and stepping out of your comfort zone, it would benefit your palate to try something other than plain, bubbly seltzer. These seven mixers range in flavor from spicy to sour to sweet, and will make you think about vodka in a new light. Try them plain for an easy, two-ingredient cocktail, or take things further with our additional suggestions to open up a whole new world of flavor.
If you’re looking to add a little sweetness to your vodka libation but don’t want a sugar overload, freshly-squeezed grapefruit juice is your best friend. While the original Greyhound cocktail was mixed with gin, we love how vodka makes the punchy libation extra refreshing. Pair it with a backyard barbecue or pool party on a hot summer day, or drink it anytime you’re craving an easy, tangy cocktail.
There’s a reason why the Moscow Mule is one of the most popular drinks around right now—its mix of vodka, bright lime juice and spicy-sweet ginger beer is a true crowd-pleaser. Make sure you buy a quality ginger beer to get the most out of your cocktail and ensure it isn’t sickly sweet. If you’ve nailed the classic recipe, don’t be afraid to experiment with other ingredients. We’re fans of the 20th Century Mule, which adds dry vermouth and crème de cacao, and swaps the lime juice for lemon.
Open the cocktail menu while you’re lounging poolside pretty much anywhere, and you’re likely to find some type of vodka lemonade concoction. While you could take the time to make your own lemonade from scratch, we find that Simply Lemonade always does the trick. Experiment to make the drink your own by muddling fruit (we like cranberries) or fresh herbs into the drink. Or try the Oaxacan Lemonade, which uses mezcal and cilantro to give the vodka and lemonade mixture an added smoky, grassy kick.
Fans of the Cosmopolitan know cranberry juice makes an excellent mixer for vodka, especially when you use the tart, natural stuff. If you don’t have orange liqueur laying around for a classic Cosmo, feel free to use some simple syrup to help balance the cranberry juice’s sour notes. You can also mix vodka, cranberry and grapefruit for a fruity, refreshing Sea Breeze. And if all else fails and you can’t find the natural stuff at your corner market, cranberry juice cocktail will do just fine.
To give your vodka a fruity edge that goes in the opposite direction of blinis and caviar, pineapple juice is waiting to bring all the tropical vibes. Mix vodka, pineapple juice and Chambord to create a downright chuggable French Martini, or take it tiki with the Chi Chi, a vodka-spiked version of a Piña Colada. Or simply pour your favorite vodka into a glass of pineapple juice. Whichever way you choose to drink it, try to grab the freshest juice possible with no added sugar.
If you love the clean taste of a Vodka Soda but are craving something a bit more interesting, turn to tonic. While the intense quinine flavor isn’t for everyone, fans of bittersweet beverages will love how it adds depth to otherwise neutral vodka. Reach for a quality bottling like Fever-Tree (as many artificially sweetened brands are quite grating) for a top notch Vodka Tonic.
Ahh the classic Screwdriver—it was likely one of your very first cocktails and you’ll probably consume many more throughout your drinking years. The mix of orange juice and vodka is easy, refreshing and perfectly balanced when made with the freshly squeezed stuff. Add a little Galliano to the mix, and suddenly you have a slightly fancy—but just as simple—Harvey Wallbanger.