Because of its light, subtle flavor, vodka famously lends itself to a wide variety of cocktails. While limes, cranberries and oranges tend to be top picks as mixers in the juice department, grape juice isn't out of the picture for vodka drinks. The deep purple of red grape juice or the gold tones of white grape juice can add a tangy grape twist to signature vodka drinks, or even muddle the grapes yourself for a rich, exotic cocktail. Much of mixology lies in experimentation, so feel free to substitute grape juice for other fruit juices to create your own concoctions behind the bar.
Cosmos: Grape Ideas
The cosmopolitan -- a time-tested mix of vodka, orange liqueur, cranberry juice and lime juice -- is a standard drink for a night at the bar. To sweeten the cosmo up a bit while retaining its sour edge, substitute red grape juice for the cranberry and lime juices. Shake about 1 part vodka, 2 parts red grape juice and a dash of orange liqueur over ice and strain into a martini glass. For a lighter, breezier grape cosmo, go with mixture of white grape juice and lime soda instead of red grape juice, or bring a little Sangria style into your cosmo by mixing red grape juice, vodka, fresh orange slices and juice squeezed from a fresh lime. Garnish with orange or lime slices, or a lemon twist. For even more grape flavor and a stylish touch, you can also garnish any of these drinks with frozen seedless grapes speared on a toothpick.
Martinis: Grape Expectations
Alongside the cosmo, the vodka martini is perhaps the most iconic of vodka cocktails, and this one has grape variations, too. Shake 1 part vodka and 3 parts sparkling white grape juice over ice and strain the mix into a chilled martini glass rimmed with sugar. Garnish with a lemon wheel and a white grape. This vodka-grape cocktail livens up the bitter vodka martini with a sweet, tart fruit flavor, and it also adds a bubbling sensation to the drink. Nowadays, the definition of "martini" is a little less strict, so feel free to liven up your grape martini by substituting red grape juice or adding complementary fruity ingredients such as lime soda, lemon bitters, grenadine or peach schnapps.
Muddling: Bunches of Flavor
Muddling fruits with a mortar and pestle may seem archaic, but modern mixologists use this method to lend rich, authentic fruit flavor and texture to their cocktails. For a smooth summer cocktail known as the savory, muddle two red and two white grapes at the bottom of a rocks glass, then add ice. Shake two parts vodka and one part lemon juice with a dash of agave syrup and pour it over the ice. Light cocktails especially absorb the flavor of muddled fruits; for a refreshing summer drink, put a spin on the classic vodka-and-soda by stirring two parts vodka and one part soda water over your choice of muddled red or white grapes. Serve in a rocks or Tom Collins glass with ice, and add an optional sprig of mint. Alternatively, garnish these cocktails with a grape skewer for a finishing touch.
Flavored Vodka: Vines of Variety
For a more subtle grape flavor, turn to grape-flavored vodka rather than grape juice. Substitute grape-flavored vodka for regular vodka in a vodka-cranberry cocktail to create a more complex, brighter flavor or mix equal parts grape vodka and champagne in flute glass, garnished with a single red grape at the bottom, for a breezy, balanced cocktail. For an intensely flavorful fruit cocktail, Smirnoff recommends the grape on the beach, a mix of grape vodka, peach schnapps, orange liqueur, sour mix and cranberry juice.
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