Photo by Aaron Graubart
When Old Man Winter comes knocking, many people reach for brown spirits such as brandy, whiskey and rum. But who’s to say that you can’t make winter vodka cocktails when the temperature drops?
Vodka originated in Northern Europe in what is now known as the “Vodka Belt.” This region includes Baltic countries Russia, Poland, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Iceland. Severe geographical winter conditions in this area make it hard to grow grapes and many other crops used to make wine and spirits. The exceptions are grains and root vegetables like potatoes, which are not only used to make vodka but can also be stored across long winters.
According to a 2021 poll, vodka is currently among the most popular spirits the U.S., with Smirnoff, Seagram’s and Grey Goose in the top 10 brands. It features in popular cocktails like the Moscow Mule and Vodka Martini, though the latter is a point of contention for gin fans and martini purists. “Vodka works so well in winter because it’s a versatile liquor that’s great for the types of cocktails we crave in winter,” says Igor Galburt, global brand ambassador, Russian Standard Vodka.
He believes vodka’s neutrality makes it suited to year-round drinks. Simply add seasonal ingredients like sage, rosemary, maple syrup, cranberries or black pepper, and a vodka cocktail becomes a perfect fireplace sipper. “Vodka is a clean spirit that can be enjoyed neat as well as create the kinds of cocktails that you’d want to cozy up with, such as warm, creamy, spicy and savory concoctions,” says Galburt.
From spicy to savory, here are 10 winter vodka cocktail recipes to warm you up!