Vodka and some simple recipes
Vodka Martini with olives | Photo: Kim Choong

Vodka and some simple recipes

Vodka is the closest form of alcohol to pure ethanol and normally bottled unaged at 40% ABV. Because it has a neutral profile, it is the easiest to use for converting any juice into an alcoholic drink.

Is vodka really tastesless? Not quite, let’s see why.

Vodka can be distilled from a variety of ingredients such as vegetables (potatoes, beet roots), fruits (grapes, apples) and grains (rice, rye, quinoa). Basically, all spirits and liqueur like rum, whisky, gin, bitters start in the form of vodka. There difference is the process after vodka.

Note: Just like any other spirits, the process of obtaining the heart of the run determines the quality of the base spirit. “Heart of the run” is the middle part of distillate discarded the undesirable toxic “heads” and smelly “tails”.

Typical ingredients used to make vodka are rye, potato, wheat, grapes, barley and corn. Ingredients play a role in the flavour of vodka. Other factors that affect the quality of vodka are the filtration process and water.

Multiple distillations from the raw ingredients into alcohol is to remove as many impurities as possible and to have as clean the taste as it can be in the end product. Therefore, the more it is distilled, the “purer” the vodka gets.

Filtration affects the texture of vodka. Activated charcoal is typically used to further remove impurities from the distillate; some use chemicals, micron paper and even coconut husk. The result is a “smoother” texture and mouthfeel. This process benefits vodka that is made for sipping.

The last factor is water. Reverse osmosis water is commonly used to reduce the alcohol level of vodka before bottling. Some producers pride theirs with water unique to their geographical origins.

Drinks below can be made with any vodka you have.

Brands like Smirnoff, Stolichnaya, Absolut, Grey Goose, Tito’s, Belvedere, Snow Leopard, Reyka, Lone Wolf, St. George, Siderit, Tried & True and Out/Vodka are brands available in Malaysia.

Read: A brief (but comphrehensive) introduction to vodka

1. Simple

The easiest drink to make with vodka is a Screwdriver.

60ml of vodka
150ml of orange juice
Pour vodka and orange into a tall glass, add ice and stir

One step up of this version is Harvey Wallbanger

45ml vodka
120ml orange juice
15ml of Galliano
Repeat steps of making a Screwdriver and top the drink with Galliano

Alternative to a Screwdriver is Greyhound, just replace orange juice with grapefruit juice.

60ml of vodka
150ml of grapefruit juice
Pour vodka and orange into a tall glass, add ice and stir

One step up from Greyhound is Firefly

45ml vodka
120ml grapefruit juice
5ml of grenadine (try rose syrup or black current syrup for alternative)
Repeat steps of making a Greyhound and drop the grenadine into the drink

2. Stiff

For something stiff, a Vodka Martini is a good option. Dry vermouth is needed in this recipe. Brands like Lillet, Dolin, Mancino and homegrown hero Eiling Lim are available in Malaysia.

75ml vodka
7.5ml (1 ½ tsp) dry vermouth
1 lemon twist / olive

Combine vodka and dry vermouth in a glass with ice, stir well then strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon twist or olive.

Order cocktails online

An Exterminator replaces dry vermouth with fino sherry

75ml vodka
15ml fino sherry
Prepare as Vodka Martini

Black Russian and Godmother have the same measurements, just different liquor.

Black Russian

45ml vodka
15ml Kahlua (coffee liquor)
Pour both ingredients into a rock glass with ice, stir well


45ml vodka
15ml amaretto (almond liqueur)
Prepare as Black Russian

3. Popular

Bloody Mary

Bloody Mary

This recipe requires a bit of preparation, but it is worth the trouble especially for a hangover. Make the tomato juice mixture separately in a batch for a party. Only add vodka when mixing the drink so the teetotaler can have the non-alcoholic version of the Mary.

Tomato juice mixture for one portion
150ml tomato juice
15ml lemon juice
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp celery seed
3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
1 dash Tabasco sauce
1 celery rib
1 lime wedge

Add 75ml vodka

Put tomato juice mixture into a shaker and add vodka. Shake well then strain into a tall glass. Add ice and garnish.

The quick-fix version

Alternatively, buy pre-mixed vegetable juice V-8. Add pepper, Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco sauce to taste.

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