Vodka 101

Last Updated: December 7, 2023

Vodka’s popularity is undeniable. The clear spirit that can be distilled from just about anything, though most producers turn to grain or potatoes. While Russia and Poland made it famous, today it’s distilled and drunk worldwide. Vodka’s neutral flavor makes it a versatile base for cocktails and is a near fail-safe liquor to mix at home.

Looking for a bottle to drink? See our always updated list of the best Vodkas!

What Is Vodka Made From?

Unlike other spirits, no set regulations govern the base ingredients for production, so it can be distilled from any agricultural product containing sugar or starch. Most vodka uses grain such as corn, rice, or wheat, but potato vodka is also popular. Versions made using beets and grapes can also be found, though they’re not as common on liquor store shelves (with the exception of grape-based Cîroc).

Water and yeast are the other ingredients that are imperative to vodka production. Brands typically lean into the former, promoting the use of spring water or glacier water with claims of ultra-clean, smooth tasting vodka.

What Are Popular Vodka Drinks?

If you ask anyone from Russia or Poland, they will insist on drinking vodka straight, either sipped and savored slowly or downed quickly as a shot. For cocktail enthusiasts, vodka is a vital component of classics such as the Vodka Martini and Cosmopolitan. Part of the spirit’s popularity is, no doubt, also thanks to its inclusion in breakfast delights such as the Screwdriver and Bloody Mary.

How Many Carbs Are in Vodka?

Vodka has a reputation of being the go-to spirit for health-minded drinkers. Though it does contain a few calories, it’s touted as gluten-free and keto friendly.  Like all distilled spirits, vodka contains no carbohydrates. This might be surprising since vodka is made from carb-heavy foods like wheat and potatoes, but they’re completely removed during the fermentation and distillation process.

Take a look at the dizzying number of classic and original vodka cocktails below, and read our full Vodka 101 for more information.

Vodka Essential Info

  • Color: Clear
  • Region: Can be made anywhere, including the U.S., though historically associated with Russia, Poland, and the European “Vodka Belt”
  • ABV: 40% ABV (recommended)
  • Aged: Generally not aged
  • Made from: Commonly made from grains, like sorghum, rye, rice, wheat, but can also be made from fruits (grapes, apples, etc.), vegetables (corn, potatoes, etc.)
  • Commercial Examples: Smirnoff, Svedka, Tito’s, Grey Goose, Real Russian, Expedition
  • Popular Cocktails: Moscow Mule, Vodka Tonic, Vodka Martini, Vesper, Cosmopolitan

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