Many vodka cocktails have made it to the list of all-time classics, like James Bond’s favourite – the vodka martini; a Cosmopolitan, the regular girls’ night out cocktail from Sex and the City; or a White Russian – the Big Lebowski protagonist’s drink of choice. In other words, classic cocktails have passed the test of time and proved to be the best of the best, confidently taking their place in popular culture.
But who says a classic cannot be made upgraded to a better version of itself, or simply made into something new? In this article, you can find ten great recipes that will help you give your favourite vodka classics an exciting twist!
Classic version: Sex on the beach
With a twist: Sex on an Arizona Beach
Sex on the Beach is a fruity vodka cocktail appropriate for every fun occasion. Sex on an Arizona Beach, however, is its sharper, stronger, and more exotic counterpart, that you absolutely have to try.
To make one, mix two shots of vodka, two shots of peach schnapps, a dash of grapefruit juice, a dash of lime juice, and some grenadine syrup in a shaker. Add some large ice chunks and shake well for 15-20 seconds. Serve in any tall glass, and enjoy!
Classic version: Cosmopolitan
With a twist: French Cosmopolitan
A Cosmo is typically a mix of vodka, cranberry juice and Cointreau – it has been this way since the 1930s. Today it is known as a simple, yet classy drink. If you want to give your Cosmopolitan a new twist, why not make it French?
For your French Cosmo, substitute the Cointreau with Grand Marnier – another, slightly heavier, orange liquor, and add a dash of grenadine. Mix a shot of vodka, half a shot of Grand Marnier, a dash of lime juice, grenadine, and a splash of cranberry juice in a shaker. Shake well with ice, and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with an orange peel, and enjoy before dinner!
Classic version: Moscow Mule
With a twist: Smashed Cherry Mule
Moscow Mule is a slightly spicy, gingery drink, which was originally made with Smirnoff Vodka. The cocktail is traditionally served in a copper mug, which gives it the classic look.
A Smashed Cherry Mule is a seasonal cocktail so, whenever you can find fresh cherries in stores, go and make yourself this drink! Take four cherries (remember to take out the seeds first) and smash them in a cup you will serve the cocktail in, adding a little bit of lime slice. Pour a shot of vodka in the cup, add ice, and top with ginger beer. And you can always enjoy some the boozy cherries after you finish the drink!
Classic version: Bloody Mary
With a twist: Yellow Bell Pepper Mary
A twist on the all-time brunch classic, Yellow Bell Pepper Mary, is not so bloody anymore. Enjoy your favourite cocktail with a characteristic peppery aroma, and in bright yellow!
To mix this cocktail, take a shot of vodka, a shot and a half of fresh yellow tomato juice, a dash of fresh yellow bell pepper juice, beet juice, pineapple juice, lemon juice, and a bit of mango juice. Pour everything over the ice in a tall glass. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, a little bit of horseradish, and a splash of white balsamic vinegar. Garnish with a slice of pineapple or a lime wedge, and some black pepper on the top.
Classic version: Vodka Martini
With a twist: Pink Martini
There is hardly any drink that can compete with Vodka Martini in its popularity. It is extremely simple, and only requires two ingredients – vodka and vermouth. If you want to give your cocktail a fresh look, make it into a Pink Martini.
A Pink Martini is not any more difficult than its classic ancestor. Fill the cocktail shaker with ice cubes. Add a shot of vodka, half a shot of dry vermouth, two teaspoons of grenadine and four dashes of orange bitters. Shake well until cold, and strain into a martini glass. Enjoy the beautiful pale pink colour combined a subtle citrus flavour.
Classic version: White Russian
With a twist: Chai Russian
White Russian, which is a mix of vodka, cream and coffee liquor, was invented in the 1960s. Same as Moscow Mule, the Russian reference had nothing to do with the origin of the cocktail, but the vodka cocktail received its name from the liquor’s primary national identity.
To make a sweet and spicy (and lactose-free!) Chai Russian, take a cup of soy or almond milk, add a teaspoon of sugar, and heat it on the stove. Add two bags of your favourite chai tea and leave for 10-15 minutes. Then, remove the tea bags and let the infused milk cool. Fill an old-fashioned glass with large chunks of ice, add a shot of vodka and a little less of Kahlua coffee liquor, then top it up with your chai mixture. Serve for dessert!
Classic version: Screwdriver
With a twist: Sonic Screwdriver
Probably one of the easiest vodka classics ever existed in history is Screwdriver, which is nothing else than vodka mixed with orange juice over ice.
A Sonic Screwdriver – inspired by the iconic English TV series Doctor Who – is a neon-green futuristic-looking cocktail. With this drink, you can impress your guests at a theme party, or simply add some colour to your usual cocktail routine. To make a Sonic Screwdriver, take one shot of vodka, half a shot of Blue Curacao liquor, and one and a half shots of orange juice. Mix these in a shaker over ice and shake until cold. Strain into a martini glass, and add a splash of RedBull. Serve and impress!
Classic version: Vodka Tonic
With a twist: Blueberry Basil Vodka Tonic
Vodka tonic is one of the most traditional ways to drink vodka. But there are many great ways to use this mixer as a base for creating amazing cocktails!
One way to twist this around is to make a Blueberry Basil Vodka Tonic – a summery take on the vodka-tonic combination. You can find these ingredients in the store pretty much any time of the year these days, but make sure to make the most of it during the summer, when the ingredients are in high season!
Take a small saucepan and combine 50 grams of blueberries and four large basil leaves with three tablespoons of sugar and half a cup of water. Bring to boil, and keep up the temperature until the sugar is dissolved. When cold, take two tablespoons of the mix and add a shot of vodka. Add ice, and top with tonic. You can garnish the drink with the rest of your fresh blueberries and basil leaves.
Classic version: Long Island Ice Tea
With a twist: Electric Ice Tea
Long Island Ice Tea is a mix of different types of strong alcohol in smaller proportions with triple sec and Coca-Cola. The Electric Ice Tea is a clear, refreshingly blue version of the same drink – one thing, it does not look like ice tea at all.
Take half a shot of each of the following: vodka, light rum, tequila, gin, and Blue Curacao. Get a highball glass, add ice, and pour in the ingredients. Add a little less than a shot of a sour mix, and carefully stir everything together. Top up with some lemon soda instead of Cola, and enjoy your electric tea!
Classic version: Sea Breeze
With a twist: Ruby Red Bay Breeze
The final classic on the list is the Sea Breeze cocktail, first created around the 1920s. This one is a beautiful summer cocktail typically made with vodka, grapefruit juice, and cranberry juice.
To make a variation, a Ruby Red Bay Breeze, take a shot of vodka, a shot of cranberry juice, and a shot of grapefruit juice. Mix these in an old-fashioned glass and add ice. Add juice of half a lime, and stir everything well. Garnish with a lime wedge, and enjoy this tart and fruity version of the Sea Breeze!
Do not be afraid to experiment and add new ingredients to your favourite cocktails. Vodka is a perfect liquor to do so: being the least flavoursome of all, it allows easy combinations with the whole range of different ingredients, like fruit, vegetable, spices, fizz, or other types of alcohol. Use these recipes for some inspiration, and keep discovering your new favourite cocktails!