Practically odorless and flavorless, vodka is a very versatile mixer; it combines with a wide range of different ingredients to produce drinks of all kinds. Although some vodka cocktails can be very complicated, they don't have to be; simply by combining vodka with one or two ingredients, you can create drinks ranging from speakeasy classics to summer coolers to fruity party favorites.
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Vodka's unobtrusive flavor mixes well with fruit juices. Mix orange juice and vodka to create a screwdriver, or vodka and grapefruit juice to create a Greyhound. A Greyhound with salt encrusting the rim of the glass is a Salty Dog. Garnish the drinks with a slice of the appropriate fruit. Vodka and cranberry juice, topped up with club soda and a squeeze of lime, create a Cape Codder.
The proportion of vodka to juice in these drinks varies; you can mix one part vodka with anywhere between two and four parts juice, depending on your taste.
Some of the most timeless vodka drinks are also the simplest. Vodka mixed with ginger beer and a squeeze of lime juice creates a Moscow Mule; mix one part of vodka with two to three parts ginger beer, then serve this fiery combination over ice in a tall glass. For a drink with less kick, a vodka tonic -- 2 ounces of vodka with 3 to 5 ounces of tonic water and a lime wedge** -- is as easy as it is classic.
Hot Vodka Drinks
Most of the classic vodka drinks are icy and refreshing, but vodka can also play a role in warming beverages ideal for a winter evening. Hot water and honey with lemon, spices and vodka -- known as krupnik in Russia -- is not only a warming drink but a traditional remedy for sore throats. For a simpler hot vodka drink, just add a slug of vodka to a mug of green tea for a cozy -- and potent -- comfort drink.
One of the reasons vodka is so versatile is that it's easy to add new flavors to its simple base. Create fruit-infused vodka by soaking 2 cups of chopped fruit in 2 to 3 cups of vodka in a canning jar; let the fruit soak for three to five days, shaking the jar gently at regular intervals. Strain the fruit out and bottle the vodka; you'll now have a unique flavored vodka that can act as a mixer or be a drink in its own right.