A cosmopolitan is a cocktail made from triple sec, lime juice, cranberry juice, and vodka. It is a refreshing drink that is enjoyed by people worldwide.
In this article, we will look at our top 5 picks for the best vodka for cosmopolitan to help you select which brand to go with the next time you buy a bottle.
What to Consider Before Buying Vodka for a Cosmopolitan
How to choose a bottle of vodka
First, you want to identify what your budget is. If you are planning on making a homemade cosmopolitan occasionally, you may be willing to spend a little more on a bottle.
However, if you are wanting to make them more often, which will mean replacing the vodka more often, purchasing a cheaper bottle may be a better idea.
Next, identify whether you want to buy a flavored vodka or a plain vodka. Plain vodka can be a good option if you are wanting to use it for a variety of other homemade cocktails. If you are planning on making primarily cosmopolitan cocktails, a flavored vodka could be a good option instead.
For flavored options, you may want to go with something like cranberry, lime, or something similar. This will help to bring the subtle flavors of the cocktail forward more to improve the taste of your drink.
Attributes that differentiate bottles of vodka
The first attribute that can differ between vodka is the price tag, with some brands costing more on average than others. There is often a price difference between an individual brand’s flavored variation and the original variation so that is something to look at.
Vodka tends to have an alcohol content of 40% to 95% (80 to 190 proof), so if you are someone who does not have a high alcohol tolerance, you may need to buy one with a lower alcohol by volume. This is then something else to consider between brands.
What’s the best way to use vodka in a cosmopolitan?
A cosmopolitan can be made in 5 minutes using 4 simple ingredients. First, fill a cocktail shaker with ice. add 2 ounces of vodka, ½ ounce of triple sec, ¾ ounces of cranberry juice, and ¼ to ½ ounce of fresh lime juice.
Shake to combine the ingredients ad strain into a cocktail glass. You can then choose to garnish it with an orange peel twist or leave it plain.
5 Top choices of Vodka for a Cosmopolitan
1. Absolut Elyx Vodka
Established in 1879, Absolut Elyx Vodka was founded by Lars Olsson Smith. Smith aimed to challenge the monopoly on alcohol production in the city of Stockholm, wanting to create something new for the market.
Absolut Elyx has an alcohol by volume (ABV) of 42,3% (84,6 proof) and has an average price of $37 per 750 ml bottle.
This makes this vodka a middle-of-the-range offering, being a better option for someone who will need to replace it less often, or someone who prefers more expensive vodka products.
- Tasting Notes: Absolut Elyx has a clean and rounded nose with notes of white chocolate and mellow spice. With a palate of rich macadamia nuts, white chocolate, and mellow spice, this is a good vodka to combine with the main ingredients of a cosmopolitan. That finish will support the citrus and berry notes of the cocktail.
- Quality Craft: Absolut Elyx is made from winter wheat that has been harvested from a single estate in southern Sweden. A vintage copper still from 1921 is used to create this beverage, creating a rich final vodka product.
- Additional Variations: Absolut offers a wide range of vodka products to choose from, including 8 flavored options and the original recipe. Another Absolut Vodka that works well in a cosmopolitan is Absolut Grapefruit which has an alcohol content of 40% (80 proof) and is available at $ per 750 ml bottle.
- Why it should be included in your cosmopolitan: The subtle notes of the vodka will not overpower the additional ingredients in your cocktail, with Absolut stating this is an ideal vodka for martinis, cocktails, or drunk on the rocks.
2. Hangar 1 Vodka
Established in 2002, Hangar 1 Vodka is produced in Alameda, California by the Hangar 1 Distillery. This brand is owned by Proximo Spirits which is based in Jersey City in New Jersey and contains a multitude of original and flavored vodka options.
Their vodka is made to highlight the innovations in vodka making while representing the influence California has had on the distillers and the brand. The ingredients used are inspired by California, with the brand ensuring their innovation and inspiration are carried through from start to finish.
Hangar 1 has an average alcohol content of 40% ABV (80 proof) making it equal to the average alcohol content of vodka. At an average price of $20 to $25, this is an affordable vodka option.
This is a type of vodka you could most likely afford to replace more often, making it a better choice if the price is something that concerns you.
- Flavored Variations: Hangar 1 has 5 flavored variations aside from the original recipe, with 1 of these flavored variations being a good option to use when making a cosmopolitan. Within the variations, there is versatility in what the vodka can be used for and the many ways it can be enjoyed.
- Ketel One Citron: This variation has notes of basil, jasmine, and apricot which can support and highlight the lime juice-tasting notes within the cosmopolitan. A bottle of this variation can be bought for $21.
- Original Ketel One Vodka: This vodka has tasting notes of florals, honeysuckle, and Asian pear. The Asian pear can help highlight the citrus and fruity flavors within the cosmopolitan, improving the taste of the beverage. This vodka can be bought for approximately $27 with an alcohol content of 40% (80 proof).
3. St. George California Citrus Vodka
St. George Spirits were established in 1982 by Jörg Rupf when there were less than 20 distilleries in the US. Several years later Lance Winters applied to be the Master Distiller at the distillery, bringing a creative vision that complimented Jörg’s technique. Finally, Dave Smith joined the distillery while in university, eventually becoming the Head Distiller at the distillery.
St. George California Citrus Vodka has an alcohol by volume (ABV) of 40% (80 proof) and can be purchased in 750 ml bottles for $28.
This is a middle-of-the-range vodka, meaning it can be bought more frequently for some and less frequently for others. You, therefore, need to consider your budget before purchasing and getting attached to this vodka.
- Tasting Notes: This vodka is made from fresh, Californian citrus with the primary ingredients being Seville oranges, bergamot, and Valencia oranges. These ingredients are introduced after the base of the vodka has been created, adding deep citrus elements to the beverage. It has a citrus aroma which is refreshing and complimentary to the additional ingredients in the cocktail.
- Why it should be used for cosmopolitan: The citrus undertones of the vodka, primarily orange and bergamot, will support and enhance the tasting notes of the lime juice in a cosmopolitan.
- Flavored Variations: St George Vodka has an original, all-purpose vodka option, with 2 flavored variations. These are the Citrus vodka and Green Chile vodka which bring versatility to cocktails with notes of lime, peppers, and cilantro. Due to the citrus elements, the green Chile vodka could also be used for a cosmopolitan.
4. Ketel One Vodka
For 300 years, Ketel One Vodka has been distilled and consumed by individuals worldwide. It is the brainchild of Carolus Nolet Senior who wanted to create a unique and high-quality vodka that is fit for the modern palate.
From there, the original variation has been improved and refined, with flavored variations introduced later.
The original variation, as well as the 2 flavored variations discussed below, have an alcohol content of 40% (80 proof). On average, a bottle of Ketel One vodka can be bought for $21 per 750 ml bottle, with the 1-liter costing $32.
Ketel One has a lower average price, making it an ideal option for someone who will need to replace it more often. If you prefer a flavored vodka option, the Ketel One Citroen variation is an ideal option to make a cosmopolitan.
- Tasting Profile: The fragrance of Ketel One original vodka has notes of citrus and honey, with a long finish and notes of citrus zest. These elements can help bring out the flavors of the lime juice in a cosmopolitan and can add further depth to your beverage.
- Citroen and Orange Variations: Ketel One Citroen has notes of lemon zest and delicate honey which can add to the flavors within a cosmopolitan, making it better tasting and more refreshing.
- The Orange variation may not be the best option unless you would prefer that, as the main tasting notes are orange juice and spice which may compete with the berry and lime notes in the cocktail.
- Why it should be used for a cosmopolitan: Ketel One Vodka, whether it is the original or the Citroen variation, can help bring out the flavors within the cosmopolitan. The original will allow the flavors of the ingredients to shine, while the Citroen variation can bring out a deeper citrus element to your cocktail.
5. Smirnoff Vodka
The roots of Smirnoff Vodka lie in Moscow, where the original distillery was Smirnoff Vodka in 1864. P.A. Smirnov had a reputation for making clean vodka, filtering it 5 times more than his closest competitors.
Since its inception, Smirnoff has been run by descendants of P.A., with his third son joining the company’s board at only 21 years old.
Since then, Smirnoff has continued to grow and become more popular, with over 40 flavored variations distilled and offered since its inception.
Smirnoff has an average alcohol content of 35% to 50% (70 to 100 proof) across its original flavor and flavored variations. Flavored variations tend to have a lower alcohol content, so this may be something you will prefer to buy if you have a lower alcohol tolerance but want to enjoy a homemade cosmopolitan.
The average price of Smirnoff Vodka is $10 to $15, making it one of the cheapest options available on the market. Smirnoff original can be bought for $13 per 750 ml bottle, with the berry and citrus having a cost of $11 per 750 ml bottle.
- Flavored Variations: Smirnoff Vodka has 2 flavored variations that would work well in a cosmopolitan. These flavored variations will highlight the tasting notes of the additional ingredients in the cosmopolitan without overpowering them.
- Smirnoff 1818 Berry: This vodka variation has notes of mixed berries which will complement the cranberry juice in a cosmopolitan, giving a slightly richer taste to the cocktail. The berry variation has an alcohol content of 35% (70 proof), which is lower than the average alcohol content of vodka.
- Smirnoff 1818 Citrus: This citrus variation has notes of spices and citrus blend which will support the lime juice in the cocktail, making it a deeper beverage to enjoy. It has an alcohol content of 35% (70 proof) making it a slightly weaker vodka option.
Best Vodka for a Cosmopolitan – Final Thoughts
The question of what the best vodka for cosmopolitan is not a straightforward answer. There are several factors to consider before you purchase a bottle of vodka.
The first thing that needs to be considered is the price of the vodka. Absolut Elyx is among the middle of the range for vodka prices, given the quality of the beverage held within. Ketel One has a lower price tag, making it ideal for frequent use.
You also want to consider the alcohol content in your vodka. If you do not have a high alcohol tolerance, a lower-proof vodka may be a good idea. Smirnoff Vodka has a high alcohol content, but the flavored variations have a lower ABV making it a good option for a low-alcohol cocktail. In comparison, Hangar 1 has an average alcohol content higher than Smirnoff’s flavored variations.
Next, you need to consider the flavor profile and flavoring of the vodka and how that will affect the taste of your cosmopolitan. Ketel One Citroen has citrus notes that will affect the flavor of the beverage and give it a more citrus taste. Another flavored variation is the St. George California Citrus vodka which will improve the citrus notes of a cosmopolitan.
Overall, you need to consider how often you will finish and must replace your vodka, what the alcohol content is, and how the underlying flavors of the beverage will affect the taste of your cocktail.
Hopefully, you have some more clarification now on which vodka to purchase next to make your cosmopolitan.