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From Madras To Warsaw, Around The World In Vodka Cocktails

vodka cocktail

There is a reason behind vodka’s reputation as one of the most popular spirits globally. Its pure, smooth and crisp profile — not to forget its versatility — make it an unparalleled base for many modern cocktails. While its birthplace is contested — Russia and Poland both lay claim to the spirit as their own — what is unequivocally true is that vodka is now a citizen of the world. Across the oceans and continents, vodka has found new locations to attach itself to (often in terms of inspiration and ingredients, even if not literally), spurring the creation of some legendary cocktails in the process. Don’t just take our word for it — let’s take a liquid tour!

The Moscow Mule

moscow mule

Contrary to its name, the Moscow Mule does not in fact trace its provenance to the Russian capital, but rather, Manhattan and Los Angeles. In the 1940s, Wes Price, a bartender faced with a surfeit stock of ginger beer and Smirnoff vodka, hit upon the idea for a three-ingredient cocktail, with the addition of lime. Other origin stories trace the contributions of Jack Morgan (the producer of the aforementioned excess ginger beer) and John Martin, the president of the company that then owned Smirnoff vodka. 

The final ingredient in this tale comes with the arrival of a Russian immigrant named Sophie Berezinski, who was looking to sell a stock of 2,000 copper mugs that she had designed and manufactured in conjunction with her father, back home. It was in Morgan’s Los Angeles pub, the Cock’n Bull, that the drink achieved its fame.

How to make it:

Pour 60 ml of Smirnoff vodka and 15 ml of lime juice in a copper mug. Fill the mug with ice, then top with 180 ml of ginger beer and stir well. 

Tokyo Iced Tea

tokyo iced tea

Once again, the “Tokyo” in the cocktail’s name is a reference not to its place of origin, but to the home of the spirit that gives this Long Island Iced Tea spin-off its distinctive flavour and colour — a melon liqueur. The cola used in the regular LIIT is swapped with club soda to make for a truly refreshing drink that won’t have you ruing the lack of “tea”. Some versions of this drink substitute the melon liqueur with melon-flavoured schnapps.

How to make it:

Add 10 ml gin, 10 ml melon liqueur, 10 ml rum, 10 ml tequila, 10 ml triple sec, 10 ml vodka and sweet-and-sour mix into a cocktail glass filled with ice. Stir, and top with club soda and a lemon wheel garnish. Do remember that this cocktail is a combination of six spirits, so you want to enjoy it in moderation. 

(Note: For an even more inventive take on this recipe, check out the directions for a Captain Morgan Tokyo Tea.)

The Madras

the madras

Its invention story is little known, but the Madras is probably a spin on the drink known as “Cape Codder” (read about it a little later in this article) and similar to the Cosmopolitan. The “Madras” in the moniker is seemingly a reference to the checked/plaid-patterned cotton fabric that is also known by this name. The drink’s flavour is described as colourful, fruity and refreshing; and as being sharper and more citrussy than the Cosmo.

How to make it:

Fill your glass with ice cubes, then — using a jigger — pour 50 ml vodka and 50 ml of cranberry juice over the ice. Stir well. Top with 50 ml of orange juice and mix with a bar spoon. Cheers!

Rio Carnival Caipiroska 

caprioska

The Caipiroska replaces the Caipirinha’s traditional spirit of cachaça with vodka. Named after the iconic carnival, this drink is a blend of fresh lime wedges, sugar, vodka, ice, and soda water. It’s really as simple as that. What’s more? The drink counts famous pop stars and world leaders among its fans! 

How to make it:

This simplified recipe calls for pouring 30 ml Smirnoff vodka, along with a bar spoon of lime juice, 120 ml soda, and three lemon and lime wheels, into a highball glass filled with ice cubes. Done!

The Warsaw 

the warsaw

A Polish cherry vodka liqueur makes this cocktail a lovely ode to the vibrant capital of Poland. The cherry notes in the finished drink, however, are subtle, with an added hint of orange. 

How to make it:

Stir 60 ml Ketel One vodka with 15 ml of cherry vodka liqueur, 7.5 ml of triple sec, a couple of dashes of bitters, and 15 ml of chilled water along with ice. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Add a garnish of orange zest. Please note that this recipe makes for two standard drinks.

Cape Codder

cape codder

Since Cape Cod, Massachusetts, is famous for its cranberries, it makes sense that this vodka and cranberry juice cocktail would also be named for this popular tourist hub. It’s a perfect drink for Indian summers, and simple enough that it can be your go-to choice for gatherings hosted at home.

How to make it:

Fill a highball glass with ice, then pour 45 ml of Smirnoff vodka over it. Top with plenty of chilled cranberry juice and stir. Squeeze a wedge of lemon over this and drop it into the glass. Enjoy responsibly!