Food & Drink

In Defense of Flavored Vodka

For a brief moment (most of the mid-to-late 1990s), the world was amazed by flavored vodka. From chocolate, to doughnut, to popcorn, to bubble gum—producers distilled every flavor they could think of into a shot glass. Then, the tide of public favor turned, and flavored vodka became nothing more than a punchline.

But we think it’s about time for flavored vodka lovers to come out of the shadows. Here’s all the reasons why flavored vodka is amazing.

There Are Actually a Lot of Great Flavors

There’s a big gap between craft and gimmick. For every “purple-flavored” vodka, there’s a Meyer lemon vodka to revive your faith. From classic citrus to bold expressions like ginger and habanero, these spirits are not only great within the category of flavored vodkas, but are simply tasty in general, and deserve to be recognized as more than just marketing ploys.

 It’s a Way to Taste Flavors You’d Never See Elsewhere Behind the Bar

Bacon rum, tomato gin, root beer pisco—all ridiculous notions. But those same flavors blend seamlessly with vodka. Vodka’s neutrality isn’t a drawback; it’s the spirit’s greatest asset, acting as a smooth base for any flavor you could ever want to drink.

 Plenty of Other Spirits Are Flavored Too

No one bats an eye at bacon-infused bourbon or craft coconut rum these days, let alone the cinnamon phenom that is Fireball. So why should vodka be held to a double standard? Some of those flavored whiskeys miss the mark as well. Singling out vodka is unfair. Leave flavored vodka alone!

Flavored Vodka Gives the People What They Want

According to the Distilled Spirits Council, vodka made up about a third of liquor sales in the U.S. in 2016, and a solid part of that was flavored vodka (which bucked the overall downward trend of the spirit by growing sales by 800,000 cases). All of those numbers can be distilled down to this simple message: A lot of people like flavored vodka. If they’re all onboard and you’re still on the fence, maybe you should stop worrying about all the flavored vodkas you don’t like and start looking for flavors you do. Because flavored vodka is a people pleaser, which means if you’re a person, there’s a bottle out there that will please you.   

They Offer Sweet Flavors at a High ABV

Sweet liqueurs are great for mixing fruit and herbal flavors into cocktails, but their low proof can drag down the overall ABV of a drink. If you’re trying to whip up a particularly strong cocktail or keep a mixture light in texture without heavy syrups, flavored vodka can add sweetness without muddying up the drink.

Some Flavored Vodkas Are Totally Organic

Not all flavored vodkas are chemical monstrosities created in laboratories. Brands like Prairie Organic Spirits and Crop source organic ingredients like cucumbers, harvested without artificial pesticides or GMOs, for vodkas that taste like they were plucked straight from the ground. These responsible brands wouldn’t look out of place on the shelf at your local Whole Foods.

They’re an Easy Way to Shake up a Standard Recipe

Flavored vodka brands do all the work of infusing for you. Rather than spending days waiting for your infusion to percolate, you can get those flavors instantly. Swapping in a flavored vodka for the standard spirit in a vodka classic is an easy way to break from your Vodka Soda rut. Try chocolate vodka in your next Black Russian or switch the Absolut Citron in the original Cosmo for another fruity vodka.

They Represent a New Wave of Cocktails

As the beverage industry slowly loosens its death grip on “serious” cocktails, allowing tiki drinks, slushies and fish bowls into the canon, flavored vodkas deserve a seat at the bar as well.

They’re Just Plain Fun

There’s enough room behind the bar for both expertly manicured craft bourbons and the latest colorful offering from Pinnacle. Flavored vodka isn’t trying to stand up to the limited run, barrel-aged set. It’s designed for an entirely different kind of drinking occasion—a fun occasion. Fun is OK, people. Grab a glass of Cinnabon vodka on the rocks and experience it for yourself.