10 Best Vodkas For A Martini

It takes a good drinker to know a good martini and an excellent bartender to prepare it. A vodka martini is a perfect example of a classic cocktail. Crafted with only vodka and vermouth, it's potent, delicate, and elegant — everything you need in a cocktail.

"For many years, the vodka martini was just cold alcohol, a little flavorless," says José Luis León, bar director at Mexico City's award-winning Licorería Limantour and Baltra Bar. But now, in the days of premium and artisanal vodkas and vermouths, we can prepare more subtle martinis than their gin counterparts, allowing us to explore the aromas and flavors of vermouth more deeply.

Behind the apparent simplicity of this cocktail lie many vital decisions. One of them is the proportion of vodka vs. vermouth, which León says depends on the decision of each bar or bartender. Less vermouth means a drier martini; these days, the trend is to go 50/50 — equal parts vodka and vermouth. In terms of garnish, you can't go wrong with olives, pickled onions, or a lemon twist, which brings out vodka's citrus notes. And lastly, when it comes to stirred or shaken, León suggests stirred, as shaking dilutes the cocktail and makes it lose some of its flavor and strength.

Finlandia Classic

This pristine vodka is produced from pure Rajamaki glacier water and golden Suomi barley, which only grows under the midnight sun in remote fields in northern Finland. Made from a distillation process consisting of more than 200 steps and 50 hours, Finlandia Classic is a dry, light vodka with a soft flavor that makes it easy to drink. It was the first Scandinavian vodka to hit the United States, arriving in 1971, and has become quite popular ever since.

Finlandia Classic is also affordable and can be an excellent entry-level vodka for those who are just beginning to explore the vast universe of the vodka martini. Its crisp flavor, with notes of pepper, coriander, and ginger, will give any martini creation a nice, unexpected kick. In fact, their classic martini, made with just a dash of vermouth, is super simple, allowing the spirit's personality to take the spotlight.

Tito's Handmade Vodka

This Austin-born vodka is one of the most beloved American spirits out there. While some might say it's not exactly handmade anymore, Tito's Handmade Vodka is still skillfully produced in the first legal distillery in Texas, giving it a nice, old-school feel. Tito's is made from corn and distilled six times using old-fashioned pot stills, then filtered using activated charcoal, and each batch is taste-tested to ensure quality. The resulting vodka is a clear-looking liquid, sweet on the nose and silky down the throat, without letting you forget you're actually drinking vodka (it's also certified Gluten-Free).

In fact, founder Tito Beveridge's goal was to create a "vodka so smooth you could drink it straight" (via Tito's Vodka). The success of his mission means Tito's works very well in most vodka-based mixed drinks, giving your vodka martini a little sweetness and a little bite. Olives work particularly well with this Texan beauty regarding garnishes, and we like to think that's the Austin way.


Ciroc has that instant association with sophistication that only the South of France can inspire, and by taking a quick dive into their history, it's easy to understand why. This spirit is produced at the Maison Villevert distillery in the Bordeaux region, which has been in the family of master distiller Jean-Sébastien Robicquet for more than five centuries. 

Unlike other grain vodkas, Ciroc is produced from French grapes in a process inspired by winemaking tradition. Grapes are selected for harvest and made into a wine, which is distilled four times in column stills, then a fifth time in a bespoke copper pot still. The result is a spirit that is fresh, fruity, and fabulously French. Ciroc is the way to go when you're in the mood for a vodka martini on a warm summer evening, as it will be light and citrusy — yet still potent thanks to the vodka's fresh flavor profile.


The gorgeous bottle is the first thing that will strike the eye about Belvedere, but there's plenty more to love about this Polish vodka. It is made from Polish rye, purified water, and distilled four times with a process that uses fire, paying tribute to the country's 600-year-old vodka-making history. In fact, Belvedere is made in one of the longest-operating distilleries in the country, open since 1910. Bonus: it is certified kosher and has zero additives.

Belvedere is a super clean vodka, with notes of vanilla and cream on the nose that continue on the palate with notes of spice and, of course, rye, a grain that's deeper and more complex than other grains used for vodka production. Belvedere is excellent in a dry martini because of its bright taste and distinct character, and the brand's own recipe calls for a grapefruit twist as a garnish, which makes for a lovely, bittersweet touch.

Prairie Organic Vodka

The story of Prairie Organic Vodka begins in the fields of Minnesota. The vodka starts with a co-op of family farmers that grows the 100% certified organic corn, ensuring no pesticides or herbicides are used. The distillation process is carried out in small batches and happens as often as needed to reach the desired quality instead of a set amount of distillations. And throughout it, Prairie Organic Vodka aims to save water, recycle waste, and reduce energy use.

The spirit we get after this carefully designed process is certified organic, GMO-free, gluten-free, and affordable. But is it martini-friendly? Why, yes, it is. Prairie Organic Vodka has a pleasant, smooth flavor that comes courtesy of the organic corn it's born from. With notes of melon and pear on the nose and a creamy mouthfeel on the palate, this vodka makes a rich, smooth martini, not to mention eco-friendly. What's not to love?


This excellent Polish import, Żubrówka, is made from rye and has been distilled since the 16th century. It is said that soon after its creation, Żubrówka became a favorite among the country's royals. Bar director León also mentions it as one of his best-liked brands, thanks to the spirit's complexity. With herbal notes of rosemary and lavender on the nose and the presence of citrus, apple, almond, vanilla, cereal, and fresh-cut grass on the palate, Żubrówka is an incredibly complex vodka. In fact, the vodka's name comes from Zubr, the bison herds that roam Poland's Bialowieza forest. This grass gives Żubrówka its distinct flavor, infusing its distinctive fragrance into the vodka.

According to Caskers, Żubrówka was banned in America in the late '70s because of a natural chemical in the grass that could thin the blood, making the vodka only available on the black market. Fortunately, the spirit, using herbs from the Bialowieza region, has been reformulated and can now be enjoyed legally. You can expect a martini prepared with the award-winning Żubrówka to be fascinating, providing a complex flavor experience in every sip.

Absolut Elyx

​Children of the late 1990s and 2000s who remember the Absolut craze will be happy to welcome Absolut Elyx, the elevated, sophisticated version of this Swedish classic. The wheat used to produce Absolute Elyx is sourced from the single estate of Rabelöf in southern Sweden, where cold winters and long summers result in generous crops. As for the water, it comes from a natural aquifer located below the distillery, and since it's filtered through limestone bedrock, it's low on minerals and naturally pure. To make the most of these top-notch ingredients, the team, led by Master distiller Krister Asplund, distills the vodka in a vintage copper column still from 1921.

If you're planning to prepare a martini using Absolut Elyx, expect a very smooth, elegant-tasting cocktail. The spirit is bright and clean, with notes of fresh bread and white chocolate on the nose and cereal, fresh nuttiness, and spice on the mouth.

Stoli Premium

A timeless classic, this vodka is truly iconic, from the bottle to the characters who drink it, including the ever-dapper Roger Sterling from Mad Men and, of course, James Bond himself. Stoli is made using a blend of spring and winter wheat with a touch of rye, and the liquid is first distilled three times, then filtered four times through birch and quartz sand, and mixed with well water. This process takes place in Latvijas Balzams, a historic distillery built in Latvia at the beginning of the 20th century.

On the first approach, Stoli features aromas of marshmallows, minerals, and fruit peel. The notes of citrus and sweetness are present on the mouth, followed by a touch of pepper. These smooth, playful scents and flavors make for an excellent, versatile martini, equally delicious with a couple of olives or a twist of lemon. Needless to say, it should be stirred, not shaken.

Ketel One

GMO-free European winter wheat is the first key to this Dutch vodka's superior quality. The next one is the unique combination of old-school and modern distilling techniques, starting with a column distillation process of the fermented mash that produces an ultra-wheat spirit, part of which is re-distilled in 10 copper pot-stills — including one that hails from the 19th century. The heart of the distillates is filtered over loose charcoal and blended, resulting in this premium, smooth Dutch vodka.

What makes Ketel One great for a martini is its freshness, as well as its silky texture, not to mention its notes of honey and citrus on the nose and long, elegant finish. For a more aromatic version, perfect as an aperitif on a summer evening, we recommend trying Ketel One Citroen, which starts as Ketel One before it's infused with four different kinds of lemon and two types of limes.

Grey Goose

Perhaps the ultimate premium vodka, Grey Goose boasts everything we are looking for when thinking of the perfect martini: a refined, clean flavor, unquestionable quality, and a beautiful bottle that is a pleasure to uncork. The production process of this French spirit begins with single-origin winter wheat from Picardie, and water from Gensac in the Cognac region. The distillation is quite unique, too, as it consists of five stages designed by François Thibault, the house's original Cellar Master, and it takes place in steel and copper columns. Adding spring water and filtering through active carbon and cellulose ensures a pure, crystal-clear spirit that is delicate and floral on the nose and has a sweet, round flavor, courtesy of the wheat. Grey Goose is fantastic in any vodka-based cocktail, producing a flawless martini that's equally bold and smooth.

Now that we've covered top-notch brands, here are some last words of wisdom from bar director León: make sure you explore your local distillers and producers, as there are plenty of interesting new vodkas being launched these days. With vodka being such a versatile spirit that allows for more freedom regarding ingredients and production processes, you're sure to find a fun new option to add to your martini-creating adventures.