Back In Fashion: The Return Of Vodka In Cocktails

For a while, bartenders looked down their noses at vodka, as the likes of gin and Tequila took off. But now the spirit has become a hit again.

In a bar filled with gin-­based cocktails, smoky whiskies, fruity rums and rich Cognacs it can be easy for drinkers to forget about vodka. In the past few years, the white spirit fell out of favour with bartenders – but perceptions of the spirit have begun to change.

“People are becoming more aware of spirits and cocktails overall,” says James Carlin, venue manager at Melbourne cocktail bar Nick & Nora. “A renewed interest in vodka is a logical progression of that. People aren’t just ordering vodka sodas with the house pour any more; they’re branching out to try new vodkas in new ways.”

Innovative vodka-­based cocktails and creative small batch producers have helped turn around bartenders’ opinions of vodka, and some are hoping to change the minds of drinkers as well. After dominating menus in the ’90s and early noughties, vodka has once again become an essential tool in top bartenders’ cocktail­-making arsenal.

Robin Westerback, head bartender at Stockholm’s Tjoget, said: “The use of vodka comes easy working behind the bar. Bartenders can rely on the subtleness of vodka to make a great cocktail, and this also makes it the perfect ingredient to use in infusions and different kinds of craft cocktails – from stiff drinks that showcase different styles of vodka, to more crowd-pleasing mixes where the goal could be to showcase an ingredient that may not shine through with another spirit.”