Vodka is the absolute best spirit for two-ingredient cocktails.
Its neutral, smooth flavor makes it the Swiss Army knife of spiking, able to pair nicely with nearly any beverage. It’s a shame that the spirit has been so long relegated to just mixing with soda water or orange juice when there are so many exciting drinks out in the world just waiting for a splash of neutral alcohol. It’s difficult to go wrong, but here are a few of our favorite beverages to mix with vodka.
Hot coffee’s rich, bitter flavor is the perfect match for many spirits, but mellower cold brew is an even better choice. Heat intensifies alcohol, making it hard to taste coffee’s flavor beneath the raw alcoholic heat. But with cold brew, you get the full flavor of the java with none of the extra burn. Vodka is easily the best choice for coffee fanatics looking to booze up their cup of joe without disturbing the taste of their precious 24-hour extraction.
You can’t call it a Moscow Mule without the lime juice, but it really doesn’t matter because this combo tastes just as great without the citrus. Bars tend to mix Mules with overly sweet ginger beer that makes your taste buds comatose. Instead, choose a quality ginger beer (like Fever-Tree) with a little spice and pep to really punch up your two-ingredient cocktail.
To say “Bloody Mary mix” here would be cheating, but dashing some vodka into tomato juice gets you halfway there. Sure, it tastes like a low-budget Bloody, but the mixture also speaks to vodka’s natural fit alongside savory flavors, which makes it unique among spirits. Try mixing rum with a few vegetables and tell us again why vodka and tomato isn’t an awesome combo.
Skip the fattening Piña Coladas and opt for a refreshing glass of vodka and coconut water instead. Whether you go for a mainstream brand like Vita Coco or an artisanal bottle like CoAqua, unsweetened coconut water really blooms with just a dash of vodka—so don’t go blasting out the delicate flavors with a huge glug of alcohol. Combine in a tall glass, stir briefly with a few big cubes of ice, and find yourself a sunny spot to kick back.
Forget OJ—grapefruit is the fruity vodka pairing your boozy brunch deserves. Unlike other sickly sweet juices, fresh grapefruit supplies both sweet and sour to create a balanced cocktail with just a touch of vodka. Add a little salt and this easy-to-mix drink is damn near perfection.
For a more adventurous pairing with the added bonus of delightful fizz, check out Jarritos’ entire line of fruit sodas. The Mexican soft drink comes in varieties like tamarind, guava, and jamaica (hibiscus), which add sweet, sour, floral, and spiced notes to any vodka. The whole range is a heck of a lot more interesting than your standard American sodas.
Unless we’re making a proper milk punch, we tend to keep our milk and booze separated at opposite ends of the daily routine. But Yoo-hoo’s “chocolate drink” contains no actual milk, making it the perfect chocolatey beverage for spiking. Its slight tang and vaguely malty taste give the two-ingredient cocktail a bit of complexity. The retro beverage may bring back memories of childhood, and a dash of vodka will make that nostalgic euphoria even better.