Ratings: New Flavored Vodkas to Sip This Summer | Wine Enthusiast
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New Flavored Vodkas to Sip This Summer

The dog days of summer call for cool, crisp sips, and vodka fits the bill. Producers are rolling out an array of flavored vodkas ideal to mix into tall, bubbly drinks, martini-style cocktails and fruity libations to enjoy at parties or poolside.

This latest crop of flavored vodkas may appeal to more cultivated palates when compared to the cinnamon bun and cotton candy flavors of just a few years ago. Instead, there are light, refreshing flavors like cucumber, ginger or breezy watermelon. There’s also a couple of surprises, like a kale-infused vodka (yes, kale) and a unique hybrid that mixes the spirit with a splash of rosé.

Bottles to Try 

Belvedere Ginger Zest, $30

Rye-based vodka from Poland forms the base for this gingery infusion, ideal for mule-style drinks. The palate opens with ginger zing and follows with honey flavor and a refreshing hint of lemon zest. It’s like a spiked ginger herbal tea. abv: 40%

Hangar 1 Rosé Flavored Vodka; $30

Look for a pale carnation hue and mild, juicy, almost vermouth-like hints of lychee, raspberry and cranberry on nose and palate. Made with Hangar 1 vodka blended with 5% California rosé, this seems right for martinis and other fruit-forward drinks. abv: 40% 

Ketel One Botanical, $25

Don’t call it a flavored vodka. This trio of lower-abv spirits from 11th generation distillers Carl Nolet Jr. and Bob Nolet launched in May with three varieties: Peach & Orange Blossom, Cucumber & Mint, Grapefruit & Rose. It is aimed at those who seek natural flavors and fewer calories. In general, the palate is light and most of the emphasis is on pleasing, almost spa-like aromas. In particular, Grapefruit & Rose stands out. It offers grapefruit up front, a lick of mouthwatering acidity midpalate and a light floral exhale. The producer recommends mixing these into fragrant vodka sodas. abv: 30%

Skyy Infusions Sun-Ripened Watermelon
Skyy Infusions Sun-Ripened Watermelon / Photo courtesy Skyy Infusions

Skyy Infusions Sun-Ripened Watermelon; $14

Clear in the glass, this vodka delivers an enticing aroma that you’d swear is fresh-cut watermelon. The palate is lightly sweet, with just a little hint of watermelon flavor on the exhale. Mix with soda water or sparkling wine for summery, spritz-y sippers. abv: 35%

Smirnoff Red White & Berry; $13

The bottle is a festive red, white and blue, reminiscent of a Bomb Pop straight off the ice cream truck, although the liquid inside is clear. The flavor is meant to evoke “cherry, citrus and sweet blue raspberry,” it’s sweet on the nose and palate, with hints of lemon ice and childhood cherry-berry. Tasting it, you’d almost expect to find your tongue stained blue. Blend with plenty of pink lemonade and ice to channel childhood flavors during your Fourth of July picnic. Limited Edition. abv: 30%

Stoli Cucumber; $20

The aroma is cool and crisp and the flavor is generally neutral, with just a breath of cucumber freshness on the exhale. New to the market this spring, this cuke-flavored vodka is the ticket for Bloody Mary-style cocktails and tall vodka tonics. P.S., We won’t tell if you add a splash to your green juice. abv: 37.5%

Ving Vodka Infused With Kale Lemon Peel & Cucumber; $40

This California spirit starts with a corn vodka base, infused with organic kale, cucumber and lemon peel. No, it’s not green, and it doesn’t really taste like kale. Instead, its flavor is a bit like cucumber-infused spa water, and finishes with earthy hints of coriander and lemon-pepper. abv: 40%

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