13 Best Vodkas For A Screwdriver

According to the Oxford Companion to Spirits and Cocktails, the screwdriver dates back to the days of World War II, when American troops stationed abroad had limited access to whiskey and many of their other usual drinks of choice. Neutral spirits like vodka offered an accessible, easygoing base for a simple new cocktail that required only booze and orange juice. Thus, the screwdriver was born.

Throughout the decades, various takes on the drink have emerged. The Harvey Wallbanger, for instance, is a screwdriver dressed up with the addition of Galliano. And the screwdriver can riff on other cocktails, too. Add grenadine to a screwdriver, and you have a vodka sunrise, vodka's answer to the famous tequila cocktail. There's something beautiful in the simplicity of pouring vodka and OJ over ice with a simple citrus garnish.

Over the last couple of decades, the trendiness of craft cocktails has all but eliminated two-ingredient drinks from bar culture in general (save for classic standbys like gin and tonic). This trend may be changing once again (via Food & Wine), and the screwdriver is still a worthy — if simple — drink. It's well-suited to drinkers and at-home mixologists who want an easy, citrus-forward cocktail without too much fluff or frill. Here are the best vodkas we recommend for your next screwdriver based on quality, accessibility, and that special X-factor we're always looking for in a neutral spirit.

Wheatley Vodka

Wheatley Vodka is an offshoot of the famous Buffalo Trace Distillery, but don't think of it as a second-rate spinoff. The folks at Wheatley are craft distillers, and the brand devotes as much time and care to its vodka as it does to its famous whiskeys. According to Wheatley's website, the vodka is made from red winter wheat and limestone water and distilled 10 times over. The repeated distillation smooths out the spirit's rough edges, so even though you're drinking a slightly higher-proof vodka — 82 proof as opposed to the vodka standard of 80 — it doesn't read hot or heavy. 

Wheatley is a great no-nonsense vodka for a screwdriver. The slightly higher alcohol level helps pronounce the spirit's flavor, making for a vodka-forward mixed drink in which the booze doesn't trample all over the orange juice's natural citrus pop. This balance is no mean feat. Serve this one over ice and garnish it with a sprig of mint for a little extra flavor.

Supergay Vodka

Supergay is a New York distiller that crafts its vodka using organic, ethically-sourced corn and spring water. During the distillation process, the vodka is filtered through activated coconut charcoal. What results is a handcrafted marvel: a supremely smooth vodka that lacks nothing in texture. It's medium- to full-bodied as far as vodkas go and performs as well on its own as it does in cocktails. 

For screwdrivers, use a classic 1:2 vodka to orange juice ratio at first, but don't be afraid to ramp up the vodka if you're looking for a bolder drink. The spirit is slightly sweet up front and a little salty on the finish, and those elements contrast beautifully with fresh, tart orange juice. Garnish it with a slice of orange or a twist of grapefruit.

An added bonus? While an excellent choice for mixed drinks in its own right, Supergay also donates a percentage of each bottle's proceeds to organizations that benefit the LGBTQ+ community (via Skurnik Wines).

Black Cow Vodka

We know, we know. Vodka made from milk? Just trust us on this one. Distilled by dairy farmers in the United Kingdom, Black Cow Vodka is some of the best stuff out there. How does it work? According to Black Cow's website, milk from the dairy cows is separated into curds and whey. The curds are used to make cheddar cheese, but the whey would typically go to waste. Instead of throwing it out, Black Cow uses a "secret distilling process" to transform the whey into vodka.

Amazingly, the resultant product is nothing short of spectacular. It's rich, full-bodied, and creamy — but in texture only. No tasting notes resemble milk or cheese. Instead, it has a full, round mouthfeel that beefs up a screwdriver or any other vodka cocktail. This vodka adds a little textural heft to your screwdriver without packing an overproof punch. If you want to get really wacky, pick up a bottle of Black Cow & English Strawberries, a fruit-infused vodka that will add a touch of sweet pink flavor to your drink. Garnish that with half a strawberry or a wedge of watermelon for a little extra juice.

Flavored Stoli Vodkas

For many, Stoli Vodka is the stuff your parents kept in the freezer that you'd nick a nip off every now and then, but it's a classic vodka for very good reason. It typically clocks in at an affordable price point and offers a viscous, almost thick texture that gets wrapped up in OJ to make a deliciously creamy screwdriver. You can go with classic Stoli (or even the overproof version, if you're looking to stiffen things up), but it's the line of flavored vodkas that sealed the deal for us.

The citrus flavors of Stoli Ohranj and Citros are obvious — and valid — choices. Both flavors amplify rather than extinguish the flavor in the screwdriver's orange juice and are a great way to jazz up the simple cocktail. Yet, it's the more unlikely flavors like Stoli Cucumber and Blueberi that will make a more interesting screwdriver. The cucumber vodka lifts and brightens the orange juice, lending it a fresh, summery vibe. Blueberi, on the other hand, introduces notes of darker concentrated blue and black fruit that make the screwdriver feel almost like you're drinking dessert. It wouldn't be out of pocket to try a blueberry screwdriver with just the faintest sprinkle of cinnamon. Seriously, trust us.

The brand has plenty of flavors to try. Why not work your way through all of them and discover your own screwdriver twist?

Haymaker's Vodka

Ventura Spirits is one of the more interesting craft distilleries in the game today. With a repertoire that includes spirits as diverse as amaro, gin, limoncello, and strawberry brandy, there's always something new to try from the California distiller. However, Haymaker's Vodka often ropes people in. And why not? According to Ventura's website, the vodka is made from apples and potatoes and distilled six times. As for the taste, this is a purist's idea of vodka: well-balanced and neutral in flavor, but bright and energetic.

Haymaker's is the kind of vodka you want to reach for when you have exceptional quality orange juice on hand that you don't want to dampen or upstage. Freshly squeezed from the orchard? Booze it up with Haymaker's. This vodka will do everything it can to silently elevate the orange juice, and nothing to talk over it — the perfect backup singer at a reasonable price. For extra points, throw a half ounce of Haymaker's strawberry brandy into the drink. You won't regret it.

Harridan Vodka

Harridan is definitely a funky, compelling vodka brand. According to its website, Harridan is an archaic term for a "bossy and/or belligerent old woman," and the brand wears that moniker proudly. Female-founded and -owned, Harridan's mission statement includes empowering women in any way possible. The folks behind the brand do so with a decidedly spooky aesthetic. Harridan's Instagram, replete with stories of famous women, posts about astrology, and references to the Salem witch trials, paints a perfect picture of this vibe.

The vodka reflects this bold attitude. Distilled from New York-grown corn (via PR Newswire), it is handcrafted from all organic ingredients and clocks in at 88 proof. (That's 44% ABV, for those of you keeping score at home.) This is a vodka for serious screwdrivers, offering a creamy texture and a hint of spice that nicely plays off the juice's tartness and offsets some of the heat from the extra alcohol.

Amass Vodka

Amass is vodka for the gin lover who's looking to branch out. The spirit is distilled from wheat in Copenhagen and finished in California with botanicals such as chamomile flowers, marigold petals, and lemon zest (via Gentleman's Journal). The floral notes of the resultant vodka recall something vaguely gin-like but without gin's characteristic piney bite or overpowering juniper character. This vodka is soft, layered, and full-flavored.

The lemon character of Amass Vodka makes it perfect for a screwdriver. Citrus meets citrus in a zippy display of flavor, and the floral undertones make for a beautiful set of tertiary flavors once you wade past the orange and lemon. Garnish this one with an orange slice or lemon twist. Heck, throw a sprig of rosemary in there if you want to get even more botanical. There's even an argument to be made for mixing up the typical 1:2 vodka to OJ ratio. With a flavorful vodka like this, you can afford to go heavier on the liquor. 

Belvedere Vodka

Belvedere is one of the most recognized premium vodkas around. And while it's not going to win any awards for interesting botanicals or unique ingredients, that's all right by us. Thanks to more than 100 years of tradition at the distillery (via Difford's Guide), the Polish vodka has become one of the world's most reliable, high-quality vodkas. There are very few brands we'd pit against Belvedere in the crowd-pleaser category. Elegantly balanced and incredibly smooth, this rye-based vodka is excellent on its own, in a martini, or mixed with something simple ... say, orange juice.

Traditionalists might turn up their noses at the idea of "wasting" top-shelf vodka like Belvedere on a screwdriver. But with an equally high-quality juice, this vodka shines. You can add a little flair to it with a wedge of lime, a splash of soda, or even a Champagne float. It's great for those mornings on the veranda in your silk robe overlooking the Italian countryside. You know, normal stuff.

Hangar 1 Makrut Lime Vodka

Though traditional wisdom dictates that vodka is flavorless, that's less and less the case as palates and philosophies of the modern drinker evolve. Hangar 1 is a California distillery producing a wide range of flavored vodkas that will transform the simple screwdriver into a drink that wows your guests and restores dignity to the much-maligned genre of the two-ingredient cocktail. With offerings as diverse as cardamom vodka and vodka made from fog — yes, you read that right — there's no shortage of innovation in Hangar 1's distillation landscape (via Shaker & Spoon).

For us, however, Hangar 1 Makrut Lime Vodka stands out as the perfect screwdriver base. It is flavored with makrut lime leaves, a variety of Thai citrus that has higher than average aromatic content and concentrated flavor (via The Guardian). The vodka itself definitely shows that bright citrus character. It also has a slightly buzzy, spicy note that plays well and makes a nice third element to the citrus-on-citrus clash of a lime-flavored spirit and orange juice.

If you think that's too much citrus for one screwdriver, try the brand's fennel vodka instead. Its unmistakable mild anise flavor introduces an herbaceous quality to the drink. Garnish it with shaved fennel, and you may have the most inventive screwdriver of your life.

Barr Hill Vodka

While many brands boast about how many times the vodka is distilled, Barr Hill does quite the opposite. Known widely for its gins, Barr Hill is a Vermont distillery that started as a collaboration between a distiller and a beekeeper in 2011 (via Forbes). The distillery's spirits — including its vodka — are distilled from honey harvested from bee hives located across the state. To maintain the honey's natural aromatics, it is not heated prior to fermentation, and the vodka is distilled no more than two times.

According to Oregon State University, over-distillation removes impurities and imperfections in a spirit. The "imperfections," in Barr Hill's case, are most of the fun. Secondary and tertiary flavors from the wild yeasts and nectar still present in the twice-distilled product lend a distinct character to the vodka. While other brands may brag about being the smoothest around thanks to umpteen filtrations and who knows how many distillations, Barr Hill celebrates its vodka's rustic appeal. 

We certainly agree. While it's not the most elegant vodka we've ever tried, it's definitely one of the more flavor-forward. For that reason, we think it's a perfect match for orange juice and makes a screwdriver of complexity and depth that some of the more traditional vodkas simply can't match. 

Grey Goose Vodka

If France has an answer to Poland's internationally renowned Belvedere, Grey Goose is it. Grey Goose is made from soft winter wheat from the Picardy (via Alcademics) and spring water from the Cognac region. The original Grey Goose has a full, round texture that makes for an excellent screwdriver when paired with orange juice of equal quality. This vodka is best used for a classic iteration of the cocktail: one part vodka to two parts orange juice garnished with a wedge of citrus.

If you want to get jazzy, though, there are several flavored options in Grey Goose's lineup that make for super tasty riffs on a regular screwdriver. According to its website, the brand's watermelon basil vodka is infused with natural fruits and botanicals. Though other options like Grey Goose L'Orange or Le Citron might make a more obvious first choice for a screwdriver, we prefer the watermelon basil for the bright, summery element it brings to the drink. To dress it up, garnish this screwdriver with fresh basil, a wedge of watermelon, or even a sprig of mint.

Green Hope Organic Vodka

Many vodka brands have adopted the modern sensibility of using sustainably sourced organic ingredients (via Wine Enthusiast), and Green Hope is no different. According to its website, the brand exclusively uses grains sourced from USDA-certified organic family farms. Additionally, a percentage of its sales support the California Certified Organic Farming Foundation, a non-profit committed to organic farming education and promotion. Now that we have all the feel-good stuff out of the way, how about the taste-good stuff? Does Green Hope live up to the hype?

In a word, yes. Green Hope makes three vodkas, each featuring a different base: corn, wheat, and cane. For screwdrivers, we prefer the corn vodka. It's light on its feet without sacrificing texture, and it shoots straight down the middle. This is a well-made, no-frills vodka that elevates the genre of neutral spirit with its production philosophy and commitment to quality.

Neft Vodka

This one's easy to get behind for the packaging alone. Neft is an Austrian vodka that comes in barrel-shaped "bottles" (if you can call them that), and its matte black or white coloring is eye-catching on any home bar. Beyond the chic design, the vodka itself is outstanding. The vodka was awarded 98 points by The Tasting Panel and also took home "Best Vodka" from the 2018 San Francisco World Spirits Competition (via Markets Insider).

One of the more curious marketing strategies the company employs is the vodka's physical mobility. You can bring this bottle anywhere because it's not made of glass. Which, at first blush, sounds a bit silly. But when we consider the scenarios in which you might be reaching for a simple screwdriver — say, camping or poolside — it makes sense. Stuff this bottle in your hiking bag, or bring it to your next pool party without fear of breakage. 

That's not, however, the sole reason that Neft is an excellent vodka for screwdrivers. This stuff is squeaky clean, medium-bodied vodka without a jagged edge in sight. A simple 1:2 ratio of Neft to fresh-squeezed orange juice will have you wondering why all vodka doesn't come out of an oil drum.