The Russian vodka industry is huge and growing. It may seem like a stereotype of the western world that Russians love their vodka, but they do — Russians drink around twenty-seven liters of alcohol a year, and vodka is one of their more popular drink choices.
Whether you choose to drink your vodka straight, with a mixer, or in a complicated cocktail with multiple different ingredients, the quality of the drink makes a difference to whatever's going into your body. If you ever make the journey to Russia itself, you'll find some of the best vodkas available — and you just have to try these brands.
10 Russian Standard
Russian Standard is now available in North America, but it's worth mentioning for the sheer affordability compared with the quality. While it tends to be assumed that more expensive spirits are better quality and will go down more smoothly while keeping the hangover to a minimum, Russian Standard can be picked up for around $20 a bottle and is undoubtedly of good quality. It certainly goes down better than some of the more common brands, anyway.
Although it might not be widely available in North American bars, it's everywhere in Central and Eastern Europe and can be picked up in grocery stores here too. No need to break the bank to find some good vodka.
9 Jewel Of Russia
Jewel of Russia is another vodka that CAN be found in the USA, but is way more limited than even the Russian Standard. The brand takes great pride in their vodka, claiming it to be the perfect mixture of an authentic Russian vodka with a smooth way of going down.
They have their standard bottles along with even more premium priced ones, but the cheapest you'll find a bottle of this in the USA for is around $40. It's cheaper if you head to Russia, so maybe wait until you're traveling to try one of the pricer varieties they carry...
You'll have to look a little harder to source this outside of Russia and the surrounding countries, but it's not impossible — though this is actually a Ukranian brand! This is a highly rated brand with a fair price tag, around the same price as the above mentioned Russian Standard, and it comes in a variety of weird and wonderful flavors (such as honey pepper — we're not sure if we'd love or hate this?).
Zyr is a vodka directly from Russia itself this time and if you haven't managed to get your hands on it in North America, Western Europe, or anywhere else, there's plenty of it in its homeland.
It's a fairly recent vodka, being released in 2003, and although vodka is always great to mix with cocktails, the bottle recommends drinking it neat. Bold — they must be super certain of the smoothness, since some vodkas can have a nasty bite if not diluted well enough!
6 Green Mark
Another vodka directly from the Motherland of Vodka itself is Green Mark. It's another affordable brand with the bottles being priced pretty low, and reviews claim that this is perfect for mixing in cocktails because it can't be tasted.
And after all, that's vodka's job in a cocktail, really — it should be so smooth that it adds something very subtle to the drink and is by no means over-powering, even with a healthy dose in there. So while Green Mark may not be one to drink neat like Zyr, if you're looking to mix up a few vodka cocktails on your travels, this may be the go-to you need.
Another authentic Russian vodka, this did become available in the United States but due to a trademark issue, the name was changed to Tobaritch! The official website claims the origins go back for three hundred years, but the recipe was kept a secret until 1998 when the vodka brand was finally started — eventually making its way out of Russia but of course, with a changed name.
So if you want some of the original ТОВАРИЩ!, you'll have to go directly to Russia itself.
4 Moskovskaya Osobaya
Moskovskaya translates to Muscovite, which is a reference to Moscow, and even this brand's name just sounds like the most Russian drink in the world. Produced in its homeland of Russia but oddly more common in Germany than any other country, the distinctive green bottle makes it stand out on shelves and it has high, high popularity in Europe.
Another new vodka, this one is completely organic, which is always a bonus. They came up extremely fast with ambitious plans to take 20% of the Russian vodka market by the end of 2013 around their launch, and are still rising today.
They consider themselves a premium ecological vodka but drew some criticism for coming to the market with some ambitious goals that were almost impossible to meet. Still, they've done well for themselves.
Marketed as super-premium (above $30 a bottle), this is definitely one of the finer vodkas on the list and one that will cost you a pretty penny to buy. Still, if you're super into your vodka and want to try all on this list, it's a little cheaper to get in Russia than it is to get in the USA due to the importing. After all, it's from Siberia, so it's much easier to get over there.
1 Stolichnaya Elit
From the Tambov region of Russia is Stolichnaya Elit, another premium vodka but one well worth trying. In a tall, thin bottle, it claims to be crystal clear and one of the smoothest vodkas to go down.
Some of these vodkas are available in the USA if you're never going to make it to Russia, but even the ones that are tend to be much cheaper in their home country — and no one knows how to mix a vodka drink like those guys. If you're ever on the fence about visiting this country and super into your alcohol (or willing to get into it!), we hope we've convinced you it's worth it.