Click a bottle to view recipes for that spirit.
Black Russian Cocktail
Black Russian Cocktail Preparation
Combine all ingredients in a rocks glass or snifter and add ice. Stir 25-35 times.
Black Russian Cocktail Story
Considered one of at least two cocktails that influenced the makeup of the iconic White Russian, the Black Russian shares a close relation to a little-known gin and crème de cacao cocktail called a Russian, which appeared in the 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book. That recipe called for a base of vodka and gin stirred up with crème de cacao. With the addition of cream, that cocktail was known as a Russian Bear. In 1949, Gustav Tops, head bartender at the Hotel Metropole in Brussels, riffed on a classic Russian with the newly introduced coffee liqueur Kahlúa, endowing it with the name Black Russian. Kahlúa was already a popular product in the United States, so the Black Russian essentially sold itself. By the 1960s, various newspapers and publications were printing recipes for the Black Russian, while others were featuring a novel variation on the drink calling for the addition of cream, heralding the birth of the White Russian.
Bloody Mary Ingredients
2 oz. Absolut Vodka
4 oz. Bloody Mary mix
0.5 oz. Fresh lemon juice
Bloody Mary Preparation
Combine all ingredients in a Collins or large stemmed glass and add ice. Stir 25-35 times. Top with ice. Garnish with a savory combination of celery, pickled vegetables, and cured meats.
Bloody Mary Story
Parisian-born Fernand Petiot was working at Harry’s New York Bar in the French capital until 1933, when he was offered a job at the Old King Cole Bar in New York’s St. Regis Hotel. It was there that he introduced Americans to the Bloody Mary, a curious sling of vodka, tomato juice, citrus, and spices that he had been serving in Paris. His savory and spicy blend was inspired by the crude but well known hangover cure of vodka and tomato juice that comedian George Jessel popularized in Florida in 1927. While Jessel doled out pitchers of the stuff, Petiot prepared each Bloody Mary with a great amount of ceremony, dashing just the right amount of Tabasco and hand cracking pepper directly into the glass. Petiot became head bartender of the Old King Cole Bar in 1934, around the time the Bloody Mary changed names to a Red Snapper, although whether the swap was due to bourgeois outrage or something more mundane, such as owner Vincent Astor’s interest in fishing, historians aren’t quite sure. Its appeal, however, went well beyond curing hangovers as it became something of a fixture in suburban entertaining. This paid off in droves for George Jessel, who often took credit for having invented the drink, and served as a key player in Smirnoff’s mid-century marketing campaign for the Bloody Mary. By the 1960s, the Old King Cole Bar reversed the name of the Red Snapper back to Bloody Mary, a move that rightfully returned ownership and credit of the drink back to a soon-to-be-retired Fernand Petiot.
Caipiroska Cocktail Ingredients
2 oz. Belvedere Vodka
2 barspoons Granulated sugar
1 Lime quartered
Caipiroska Cocktail Preparation
Add sugar and lime wedges into tin set and muddle. Add vodka and ice. Shake hard. Pour into a double rocks glass without straining.
Caipiroska Cocktail Story
The traditional Caipirinha, made with cachaça, muddled limes, and sugar, grew in complexity and depth of flavor over time as new fruits, herbs, and even liquors arrived on the Brazilian bar scene. Liquor companies pounced on the opportunity to introduce their spirits as varietals. Bacardí registered a common rum substitution as a Caipirissima, while the bolder addition of sake turns the drink to a Caipisake. However, using vodka as the base spirit is the most common swap in bars all over the world - that’s where the -oska comes from. Of course, Smirnoff has already registered the name Caipiroska, but Caipivodka may still be up for grabs!
Cosmopolitan Cocktail Preparation
Combine all ingredients in a shaker and add ice. Shake hard. Fine strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a lime wedge.
Cosmopolitan Cocktail Story
The Cosmopolitan is an iconic drink with a long history. Did Odeon’s Toby Cecchini adapt it from a recipe he encountered by way of a co-worker from San Francisco in the late 1980s? Was it invented in New York’s Rainbow Room by Cocktail King Dale Degroff and served to Madonna in the early ‘90s? While the earliest mention of a Cosmopolitan appears with raspberry syrup instead of cranberry juice in Charles Christopher Mueller’s 1934 cocktail handbook Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars 1903-1933, our favorite story is of Cheryl Cook, head bartender at the Strand in Miami, whose recipe closely matches that of the modern Cosmo. Cook incorporated Absolut Citron, introduced to the US in the ‘80s, and mixed it up with Triple Sec, Rose’s lime juice, and cranberry, then poured it into a Martini glass for a vibrant drink that looked classy but tasted flirty. Regardless of the origin story, Cook is indirectly responsible for the Cosmo's explosive mainstream appearance. According to Cook herself, one of her loyal clients was Sex and the City costume designer Patricia Field, who likely introduced the drink to Carrie et al.
Gypsy Queen Cocktail
Gypsy Queen Cocktail Preparation
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass and add ice. Stir 25-35 times. Strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a lemon twist or olive if desired.
Gypsy Queen Cocktail Story
For a short time after Prohibition, vodka enjoyed an air of exclusivity among New York’s upper-class clientele, who sipped the exotic spirit at upscale locales like the St. Regis or the Russian Tea Room. Owned by a cadre of former members of the Russian Ballet, the Russian Tea Room was where the Gypsy Queen first appeared, in 1935. Though the evocative mix of vodka, bitters, and the herb-based Bénédictine liqueur made the cocktail a hit, World War II inspired a wave of patriotism in American drinkers, who all but abandoned the foreign vodka for homegrown alternatives like whiskey.
Harvey Wallbanger Cocktail
Harvey Wallbanger Cocktail Preparation
Combine all ingredients in a Collins glass and add ice. Stir 25-35 times. Garnish with a lemon wheel or orange twist.
Harvey Wallbanger Cocktail Story
Who, exactly, was Harvey Wallbanger? You would have to track down the Duke to find out. The popular legend states that Donato “Duke” Antone named his mix of vodka, orange juice, and Galliano in honor of Tom Harvey, a surfer who had a tendency of banging his head against the wall after having too much to drink. Antone actually had his own bartending school throughout the 1960s and was credited with creating numerous drinks, some featuring Galliano, but none of which were called Harvey Wallbanger. Antone was likely a background player in the invention of the drink, possibly consulting on the recipe. The cartoonish Galliano mascot of Tom Harvey, however, is entirely the stuff of marketing genius. Crossing an obscure Italian liqueur with beach bum surf culture seemed to resonate with the public, making the Harvey Wallbanger one of the most successful cocktail creations of its day. By the 1970s, the demand for Harvey Wallbangers was so high, the concoction was sold as a pre-bottled mix. This was in the dark ages of the cocktail, however, when convenience trumped freshness. We recommend preparing this one with fresh ingredients and skipping the head banging.
Moscow Mule Cocktail
Moscow Mule Cocktail Ingredients
2 oz. Absolut Vodka
0.75 oz. Ginger syrup
0.75 oz. Fresh lime juice
Moscow Mule Cocktail Preparation
Add a splash of soda to a Moscow Mule mug. Combine the remaining ingredients in the mug. Add ice, top with soda, and stir. Garnish with a mint bouquet and either a lime wedge or lime wheel.
Moscow Mule Cocktail Story
Though businessman Rudolph Kunett introduced Smirnoff to the US market in 1933, by 1938, he sold the company to John Martin of Heublein, a foreign goods import/export company. Vodka was a hard sell during World War II, when patriotism - and a penchant for whiskey - was at an all-time high. Ginger beer wasn’t selling well either. Ginger beer, new to the public’s palate, hadn’t quite gained in popularity either. So when Martin swung by the celebrity-favored Cock ‘N’ Bull bar in Los Angeles where owner Jack Morgan had an overstock of ginger beer, the two combined their surplus inventory, and the Moscow Mule was born. As a creative marketing hook, Morgan and Martin decided to serve the mules in original copper mugs, encouraging bartenders to pose for photos with the cocktail along with a bottle of vodka to promote the new delicacy. The ploy was a success, as photographs and free mugs spread the Moscow Mule’s popularity from bar to bar.
Vesper Cocktail Preparation
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass and add ice. Stir 25-35 times. Strain into a coupe or stemmed cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
Vesper Cocktail Story
This modern classic debuted alongside its iconic imbiber in Casino Royale, the first James Bond novel, published in 1953. Royal British Naval Intelligence officer and writer extraordinaire Ian Fleming frequented Dukes Hotel in London, where head bartender Gilberto Preti first served the stiff drink. As Bond describes it: “three measures of Gordon's, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it's ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?" Fleming, like Bond, started out as a gin drinker. Various ailments over time, however, prompted a switch to the “healthier” alternative, bourbon. Like his inventor, Bond too eventually abandoned gin, opting instead for vodka. While the Vesper Martini is still the main draw, Preti’s successor, Alessandro Palazzi, has built a Bond-themed bar program at the Dukes Hotel which includes a phenomenal table-side martini known as the Dukes Martini. Though Kina Lillet is no longer available since it was discontinued in 1985 due to its high quinine content, Lillet Blanc has become the industry-standard substitute.
Vodka Gimlet Cocktail
Vodka Gimlet Cocktail Ingredients
1.75 oz. Ketel One Vodka
0.75 oz. Simple syrup
0.75 oz. Fresh lime juice
Vodka Gimlet Cocktail Preparation
Combine all ingredients in a shaker and add ice. Shake hard. Fine strain into a coupe glass and add ice if desired. Garnish with a lime wedge.
Vodka Gimlet Cocktail Story
Originally made with gin and lime juice to ward off scurvy, the gimlet’s clean flavor profile inspired variations once spirits like vodka permeated the American bar scene in the 1940s. While Philip Marlowe declares in Raymond Chandler’s seminal novel, The Long Goodbye, that “a real gimlet is half gin and half Rose’s lime juice and nothing else,” modern interpretations include substituting liquors, altering the ratio of Rose’s, or eliminating it altogether, instead incorporating a combination of fresh lime juice and simple syrup to taste.
Vodka Martini Preparation
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass and add ice. Stir 25-35 times. Strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with an olive.
Vodka Martini Story
When the Russian owners of Smirnoff sold the century-old company to an American businessman in the 1930s, the United States acquired a new base spirit to make cocktails with: vodka. The clear liquor’s mild flavor made it a popular substitute for classic gin-based cocktails. The Martini was no exception. Smirnoff popularized the concept of a “three Martini lunch” as part of a clever advertising campaign aimed at businessmen, encouraging their target demographic to drink up with the false assurance that vodka, unlike gin, left no trace on the breath.
White Russian Cocktail
White Russian Cocktail Preparation
Add vodka, Kahlúa, and ice to a double rocks glass. Stir 25-35 times. Slowly pour cream over the top.
White Russian Cocktail Story
The history of the White Russian is like that of an Eastern Bloc state: one name change after another. The mix of vodka, cream, and coffee liqueur went through several iterations from the 1950s to 1960s, gaining an ingredient here, losing one there, until arriving at the drink destined to be immortalized in the Coen Brothers’ The Big Lebowski. The drink’s predecessors trace back to the 1930s, a time when vodka cocktails were a rarity. The Savoy Cocktail Book calls a mix of gin, vodka, and crème de cacao a Russian and a vodka Brandy Alexander a Barbara. This drink was later known as a Russian Bear, inching closer in association to the White Russian. The 1940s saw the introduction of Kahlúa to the US Market, a coffee liqueur which quickly replaced crème de cacao, leading to the invention of drinks like the Black Russian. The growing appeal of the Black Russian, created in Brussels in 1949, rendered those old Savoy cocktails obsolete. The White Russian, appearing in the 1960s, is the enduring legacy of all of those unfussy cocktails. With easily available ingredients and a recipe that can be built in a glass, its appeal is broad, prepared by suburban dinner party hosts and abiding dudes in robes alike.