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Vodka and Food Pairing: Beyond the Basics



Vodka is having a real moment in liquor culture at the moment. People are starting to treat it as one of the greatly favored spirits. Whiskey, tequila, and gin have all had such treatment in recent times and it is time for vodka to go through the same process! There are some really exciting brands producing some amazing bottles.

Vodka is unique because it has a deliberately mild flavor profile. Other spirits have rather distinctive flavors within them – the other three spirits being among the most loved and also most detested. Vodka’s reputation is quite poor at the moment, however. Most people consume it as one of their first-ever drinks when they are at college or their equivalent.

With vodka being generally more of a mild drink, you can warp it into so many amazing things that can pair beautifully with food. Whereas whiskey has its limitations with fruit, vodka does not. Whereas gin has its limitations in being drunk in an undiluted form, vodka does not. Whereas tequila is often a little too expensive to be mixing into complicated drinks, vodka is not.

We are going to outline some classic vodka drinks with some modern twists that go beyond your expectations of the spirit. We will then highlight some potential food pairings that can help to elevate this drink to a new place. There are certain food trends that will work really nicely with some of these drinks.

We will run through drinks to pair with all occasions, cuisines, and times of the day. There really is no end to the possibilities when it comes to what goes with vodka. Whether you’re a fan of getting a vodka twinge at the end of a drink or you like it to be completely covered, we have options for you!

Vodka Highball

If you’re used to a highball being a whiskey cocktail, we’re here to clear up the confusion. A highball cocktail is defined as a tall drink that has ice, a spirit, and a soft drink mixer. Highball cocktails are most commonly referred to with soda water, though tonic water is a really popular drink, too.

Vodka soda and vodka tonic cocktails are wildly popular. The vodka soda and lime, also affectionately referred to as the ‘skinny bitch’ cocktail, is one of the most favored mixed drinks in the world. It is light, relatively not bad for you in terms of calories, and isn’t going to get you messed up at the start of the night.

There really isn’t any limit to these highball drinks. Why not try adding some vodka with some light tonic and a squeeze of grapefruit to pair with your Mexican dish? Squeezing in plenty of fresh lemon to this instead of the grapefruit would make it an amazing thing to serve at a cookout alongside some appetizers!

When it comes to the choice of vodka, you don’t want to go too crazy here. Something like Kettle One or Tito’s is the best call as it is a quality product that won’t break the bank. A pro tip is to muddle the fresh citrus into the vodka to make sure you get out some of those extra hidden natural oils from the zest!

Neat/On The Rocks

This is where you can truly taste the vodka. Vodka on the rocks is a delicious way to drink this smooth spirit. The first sip, if you’re not used to it, will be a burst of flavor and mellow mouthfeel that will prove addictive. People often take vodka in shots though we feel that sipping it is a much nicer way to drink it.

Vodka, like other spirits, works really well with salty food. Vodka on the rocks would work really nicely with Japanese food. The delicacy of the sushi would be a perfect pairing. Similarly, the fragrance and brightness of Thai food would be a beautiful combination.

If you want to get fancy with it you can add some floral element to the vodka. Something like a spritz of lavender, rose water, rosemary, thyme, or another fresh, floral herb would go fantastically well. If we’re following the direction of simple foods and cuisines then something like chargrilled octopus foods or anything Greek would go great!


This is certainly the most iconic vodka cocktail. Made popular through movies and generally being a cool drink, the martini is a favorite around the world. This drink is commonly drunk with vodka, though gin has also become popular of late. It is one of the most customizable cocktails in the world as well.

Martinis are a bit of an old-school staple. There are some establishments where you’re guaranteed a great version of it. Places like old-school steakhouses, Brasseries, Bistros, Osterias, and Trattorias are bound to offer a great martini. The food in these places often tends to be rich and decadent.

Martinis and steak go hand in hand. They couldn’t be more different in terms of flavor, texture, and brightness. You don’t want something overly smoky like barbecue as it will overpower, though a beautifully grilled fish dish would go well also. The martini should be a great companion all through these classic venue’s many offerings.

We hope you have enjoyed reading a bit about our in-depth investigation into some amazing vodka and food pairings. We hope that these pairing ideas serve more as a template than anything else – giving you an endless source of inspiration. Once you have the vodka agreed upon you can really get creative! As a guideline, salty and charred foods work really nicely with vodka in the forms we have listed above.

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