How to Drink Vodka Shots
The first thing to consider when drinking vodka straight is the quality of spirit. Unless you want to forever ruin vodka for yourself, it’s best to opt for higher quality vodka when you’re sipping it solo. You should also take into consideration what base ingredient it was distilled from. Vodka is most commonly distilled from grains like wheat, rye or rice, but it can also be distilled from things like potatoes, corn, beets, fruits (like apples or grapes), or even milk or maple syrup. Vodka made from potatoes, like Chopin or Luksusowa, tends to have a creamier body and mouthfeel, and a subtle earthy taste. Corn-based vodka, like Tito’s, tends to be sweeter with more alcoholic heat. Wheat vodka, like Grey Goose or Absolut, is creamy and viscous, with a clean flavor. Rye-based vodka, like Belvedere, has a piquant pepperiness. But most vodkas on the market use a blend of grains to achieve a consistently neutral product. Blended grain vodkas of note include Smirnoff, Stolichnaya and Skyy.
The next step to drinking vodka shots is the most important: Chill it. The best way to chill a bottle of vodka is simply to store it in the freezer (don’t worry, vodka can’t freeze). That way you’ll always have it at the ready. Freezing vodka removes any harsh flavors in the spirit and softens the burn of the alcohol in both the aroma and on the palate. If you don’t want to store your vodka in the freezer (or don’t have room for a bottle) you can chill it by stirring it in a mixing glass or pint glass with ice, and then strain it into a shot glass with a Julep strainer.
While vodka shots are primarily taken to get the party started, the ice-cold shooters are also great with food. In Russia, straight vodka is always served with a meal or snacks called zakuski, which include noshes like smoked fish, pickles, fresh cucumbers, meats, sausages and olives. If you want to drink vodka like they do in Mother Russia, take bites of food in between sips of vodka—and repeat until the sun comes up.