It may look like water, but cheap vodka burns like a bottomless fire pit.
We've all been there though—an awkward leftover party stash, an insufficient paycheck or maybe just a preference to spend extra cash on snacks instead. Either way, a 10-dollar handle of vodka is less than enticing on its own, especially since you know it tastes like nail polish remover.
Try these seven easy ways to class up a bottle of bargain vodka and make it go down way easier. Neon shooters be gone: It's time to make pasta.
① Take it to flavor town. Putting fruit in a jar with extra firewater looks nice, tastes better and lets you hold your pinky in the air as you brag about infusing something. Try pineapple, since the sweetness will take care of that weird ethanol taste. Started from the bottom shelf, now we here.
Photo: Daniel Krieger
② DIY vanilla extract. You need just two ingredients to feel like a kitchen pantry wizard: vanilla beans and vodka. Three if you count patience, since it could take up to six weeks to reach that deep mahogany color. It's also more cost effective than buying a bottle of extract at TJ's, especially since your handle is dirt cheap.
③ Take it to the candy shop. Infuse jelly candies like gummy worms, bears or peach rings. Or go all out and make LEGO-shaped gummies that are even more fun to play with once your hand-eye coordination gets a little questionable.
④ Throw it in a pan. Cooking with wine is normal, so why not cook with vodka, too? Since the flavor cooks out anyway, you wouldn't even want to use Grey Goose here. Try using vodka to make creamy pasta sauce, where butter, onions, garlic and tomatoes are all you really need to cancel out the alcohol's astringent taste. It's like a modern-day Cinderella story.
⑤ Freeze it in its tracks. When life hands you subpar vodka, make boozy pineapple ice pops. Soak blackberries in vodka, then stick them in a pineapple base made creamy with Greek yogurt—and even more alcoholic with another shot or two.
⑥ Give it a makeover. It may not taste good in its original form, but there's no reason to waste alcohol. Turn it into a liqueur, like tangy-sweet orangecello or limoncello. Pour the citrusy drink into a cup, call it a cocktail and then call it a day.
⑦ Give it a bubble bath. This could mean Champagne, sure—but don't drag everyone's favorite gateway drink, the vodka soda, through the mud based on the fact that half its ingredients aren't up to par. Use a craft soda to up the ante, like Boylan's black cherry or a refreshing Spindrift seltzer. It all averages out in the end to make one normal, enjoyable cocktail.
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