The Best Vodka Brands for Crafting a Martini
The Vodka Martini is a classic modern cocktail made with vodka, dry vermouth, and olives. It’s a contemporary staple in bar menus that can be adapted for a range of flavors from the dry, salty taste the original is based on.
While the gin martini cleaves to tradition, the vodka version offers variation and individuality in the vodka types used and the additional mixers.
The following article outlines the classic recipe and a few interesting variations before breaking down the best vodka for martini making. If you try these bottles out making cocktails from your home bar, I’m certain you’ll find a new favorite vodka.
The Classic Vodka Martini Recipe
There is more than one interpretation of this vodka cocktail, but it’s best to start with the simple version
- 1 ounce vodka
- 1/3 ounce vermouth
Garnish: Lemon peel, olives
Optional: Dill pickle
Equipment: cocktail shaker/mixing glass, chilled cocktail glass, lemon zester
Add vodka, vermouth, and ice to a tall mixing glass or cocktail shaker and stir or shake thoroughly. I’m not interested in the continuing arguments between the value of using a martini shaker or stirring alcohol only cocktails (it seems to get punchy), I’m just happy to drink them.
Strain liquid into a chilled martini glass. Zest with lemon peel and garnish with a lemon twist or olive before serving. Many people don’t like olives, so the optional dill pickle works a treat because it’s all about the salt!
Vodka Martini Variations
Even with a timelessly classic cocktail, some people like to get dirty in crafting the perfect martini. A dirty martini adds olive brine or olive juice to the vodka cocktail to give it an even saltier aspect.
A Gibson cocktail replaces the olive garnish for a cocktail onion, which tastes earthier. If you want to get hectic, a filthy martini recipe adds bleu cheese to the mix (I’m sorry, but that’s where I tap out). There’s also the option to make a chocolate martini that can juxtapose the sweet/bitter bite of cocoa (in the vodka or added) with the salty deliciousness of the olive brine.
Other people prefer to go in a slightly sweeter direction by adding bitters – a touch of orange or cranberry juice – or flavored vodka – grapefruit, strawberry, raspberry – to create a contemporary flavor variation to their glass. While not necessarily a Vodka martini, once you’ve had one of these in your cocktail shaker there’s unlikely to be much argument about pouring another.
The Best Vodka Brands for Making a Perfect Martini
1. Hangar 1 - Straight American Vodka
Hangar 1 is a beloved independent vodka that has changed its label and branding slightly over the last few years. Hangar 1 production methods remain fantastically craft style; the vodka is pot-distilled from a blend of wheat and viognier grapes.
It’s a smooth, yet lively vodka that’s slightly herbal and citrusy on the nose with a somewhat thick, oily mouthfeel that translates well when poured into a superbly chilled cocktail glass, emboldened slightly by a smattering of black pepper on the finish. When used alongside a simple orange bitters or in a classic dry martini, Hangar 1’s smoothness works well to underpin a stronger, more dominant taste (both sweet and savory).
2. Dingle Pot Still Vodka
Dingle is named for the Irish town where this rare vodka is distilled, which also happens to be the westernmost settlement in Europe. A true artisanal company, Dingle marries Ireland’s independent distillation methods with small batch, innovative production.
Dingle is a premium grain alcohol quintuple distilled before being charcoal filtered, cut with water from a well 240 feet below the distillery, and bottled by hand. The focus on purity and quality water for filtration creates just a touch of sweetness and creamy texture to the finished spirit.
Dingle is best poured chilled from the freezer with a zesty lemon twist but is equally at home forming the backbone of a premium dry martini or other vodka cocktails.
3. Square One Basil Vodka
Vodka has embraced distillation innovation much in the same way that gin has, using flavor and context to create more variety in a traditionally neutral spirit. Increased use of botanical infusions has helped add extra layers in flavor, particularly the saltiness of a dirty vodka martini.
One such option is Square One Basil vodka, which is loaded with four varieties of basil (Genovese, Thai, Lemon, and Sweet) in addition to coriander, honeysuckle and lemongrass. When deployed in a dirty martini the different lashings of basil and herbs work beautifully against the salty olive juice and the crispness of the alcohol.
4. Chase Potato Vodka
Chase is an English boutique potato vodka brand made from field to glass on a family farm. The company says it takes 250 Herefordshire potatoes to craft every bottle of Chase Potato Vodka.
The commitment to singular crafting has resulted in vodka that has an aroma of sliced potato, a luscious mouthfeel with a nice thick and oily texture, and earthy finish with little afterburn. Chase offers a tremendous base spirit for use in your dirty martini recipe, or you can drink freshly chilled straight out of the freezer in a vodka soda with orange bitters, lemon juice, or cranberry juice.
5. Absolut Elyx
Absolut Vodka Elyx is hard to go past if you’re looking to enjoy a premium wheat vodka crafted with commitment to quality and innovation. Elyx defines the luxury Swedish vodka brand, made from single estate winter wheat (this means the grain only comes from one specific source before distillation).
This Absolut expression is hand-produced in an antique 1921 copper column still and bottled at 84.6 proof, however, the silky smoothness of the wheat vodka is such that you can completely disregard the hike in alcohol content (provided you drink responsibly). Absolut Elyx delivers a beautifully smooth taste and almost completely non-existent bite, suitable for the novice or seasoned vodka lover alike.
6. Reyka Vodka
Reyka Vodka’s smooth taste is partly because it’s made from pure Icelandic resources. Reyka is handcrafted in small batches using Iceland’s arctic spring water during the multi-filtration process. From there it’s filtered through lava rocks then distilled in one of only six Copper Head Stills in the world at the company’s zero-emission geothermal distillery in Borgarnes, Iceland.
The distillation process is so unique that Reyka only produces 255 cases of vodka per batch. It’s a quality smooth vodka versatile for any situation but best served over ice.
7. Ciroc Snap Frost Vodka
In 2007 rapper/producer Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs bought into Ciroc. His involvement made this premium vodka brand one of the most popular across the United States. Ciroc is a French vodka crafted from eaux-de-vie, which is a clear, colorless fruit brandy produced by means of fermentation and double distillation. To create Snap Frost the eaux-de-vie is distilled five times, including a final spin at the historic Distillerie de Chevanceaux in the South of France.
This expression is a fantastic gluten-free vodka distilled from mauzac blanc and ugni blanc grapes for a smooth fresh flavor. It’s a clean, crisp vodka carrying citrus aromas on the nose. The palate is sweet and light with a natural grape character that translates well to a classic martini.
8. Russian Standard Original Vodka
Russian Standard Original Vodka is made with wheat grown from the Russian Black Steppes and uses the glacial water of Lake Ladoga in the north.
The vodka spirit is distilled multiple times, quadruple filtered through charcoal, and then relaxed for 48 hours before bottling. The result is a classically pure yet smooth and delicious vodka with little afterburn.
Russian Standard offers excellent versatility and value for money whether you’re a mixologist looking to start the party or entertaining a smaller group with a bleu cheese filthy martini from your home bar.
9. Van Gogh Dutch Chocolate Vodka
I’m firmly of the opinion you bring in a specialist for crafting a chocolate martini (although you can go with an original vodka). Given I’m also a huge fan of the one-eared artist, I was naturally drawn to trying this expression.
Dirkzwager Distilleries Master Distiller Tim Vos handcrafts Van Gogh Vodka in small batches using the finest grains – primarily a combination of wheat and a little corn and barley. The vodka is distilled twice in column stills and then a third time in a traditional pot still to produce a well refined spirit with very little ethanol bite, but just the right amount of cocoa bitterness.
Van Gogh Dutch Chocolate Vodka is helped tremendously by the infusion of rich chocolate and hints of honeycomb and caramel. If an after-dinner martini is what you’re after, there’s also strawberry, caramel, and two espresso varieties to suit a range of tastes.
10. Quarantine Vodka
Look, if there was ever a perfectly named vodka for the world right now, this has got to be it. The tagline on the bottle, “isolated in perfection”, is brilliant and launching in May of last year was great timing for the American brand.
Quarantine Vodka is made from corn, distilled six times and filtered with the purest water from San Diego. It offers the clean aroma of corn that effortlessly translates to a smoother, creamy mouthfeel than other vodkas. Quarantine Vodka was designed to be a premium mixing vodka that takes your cocktail making to another level.
Bonus: Noilly Prat Original Dry Vermouth
Almost an afterthought in many a gin martini or vodka cocktail, Noilly Prat is the first and most famous of all Vermouth expressions. It’s a dry, straw colored fortified wine created by French herbalist Joseph Noilly in 1813 and fundamental to many martinis.
If it’s not quite your style of mixer then there is a range of sweeter (or even drier) variations available to jazz up your cocktail mix.
Vodka Martini FAQs
The vodka martini is a contemporary cocktail made with vodka, dry vermouth, and olives (or a salty dill pickle if you’re feeling dangerous). It’s a straight alcohol mix that can be shaken or stirred in a mixing glass or cocktail shaker depending on your taste.
There’s only one difference between these contemporary classics. A Gibson cocktail replaces the olive garnish for a cocktail onion, which tastes earthier than the almost pure salt of the olive.
A dirty martini adds olive brine or olive juice into the vodka cocktail to give it an even saltier aspect, while a filthy martini recipe adds bleu cheese.
Other people prefer to go in a slightly sweeter direction by adding bitters, cranberry juice, or flavored vodka – to create a different flavor.
For an after-dinner cocktail, a caramel or chocolate martini can juxtapose the sweet/bitter bite of cocoa with the salty deliciousness of olive juice.
The Best 14 Leather Jackets for Men in 2021
With the winter months (hopefully) dwindling down, it’s time to start planning ahead to a time where we can wear thinner jackets and fewer layers. While it may be tempting to quickly shed your parka and grab for whatever piece of outerwear is nearby, don’t reach for last year’s wardrobe item just yet. Isn’t it time you try something new, like, say, a leather jacket?
Though it may seem all leather jackets are similar, there are actually many different designs and styles that work for different body types and tastes. In this article, we will take a look at the hottest leather jacket trends that have hit the market this season.
1. Aaron Brown Leather Bomber
The Aaron Brown Leather Jacket from The Jacket Maker is an excellent choice for any guy looking for that traditional bomber look. This awesome jacket features a slim cut and ribbed cuffs and waist. It’s made with incredibly tough, yet soft, goatskin leather, making it a great choice for guys that aren’t used to wearing leather jackets.
One of the best things about the Aaron is that it shirks the classic pouch pockets on the lower half of the jacket, opting for two buttoned patch pockets on the chest instead. This design gives it a more streamlined look than most bombers, without taking away from any of the authenticity.
2. Saint Laurent Leather Biker Jacket
There is a reason why leather jackets and bikers are usually associated with one another. Historically, many motorcycle riders have seen a leather jacket as a stylish way to protect themselves, not only from the elements but also from the possibility of a crash. While this may seem hard to believe – it’s not like leather comes with a large amount of padding, after all – leather has actually been shown to offer more protection than your average vinyl jacket or equivalent.
Maybe you’re not hopping on a motorcycle anytime soon, but you can still treat yourself to this biker-inspired Saint Laurent leather jacket. With a price tag surpassing $5,000, it’s certainly our premium pick on this list, but if you’re looking for the leather jacket of a lifetime, you have it right here. This pick is sure to come with the “for life” quality Saint Laurent is particularly known for.
3. Reiss Keith Leather Cafe Racer Jacket
Reiss is a British fashion retailer that’s been around since the 1970s. For the first 30 years of its brand history, it focused solely on men’s fashion before eventually expanding to carry items for women as well. However, the fact high-quality items for men are at the heart of this brand is very apparent through their simple wardrobe staples such as the Keith leather cafe racer jacket.
This Reiss jacket comes at a considerably lower price point than its counterparts, which makes it a pick that packs a lot of value. It’s made from super-soft leather and features a full lining. It’s the perfect choice for anybody who prefers a slim-fit jacket.
4. Lavendard Brown Leather Bike Jacket
The Jacket Maker has something for everyone, including guys that are a bit intimidated by purchasing their first leather jacket. Not only is the Lavendard incredibly affordable, but it also has a really approachable look despite its biker moniker. With open hem cuffs and a tailored fit, it looks great with badass-inspired outfits as well as everyday wear.
The Lavendard is made of real cowhide, which means it will take on a great patina over time. But it might be a bit stiff when you first get it. The more you wear it, the faster it’ll form to your body, break-in, and soften up. The fact that it goes with so many outfits will help speed up that process.
5. Ksubi Capital Leather Jacket
The Capital Leather Jacket from Ksubi comes in 100% authentic leather and is designed to have a biker fit. It’s heavy-duty with a protective interior quilted lining. It also features retro details such as antique zippers.
Kusbi is an Australian fashion label that’s existed since the 1990s. While the brand was originally focused on high-end denim, they’ve expanded their offerings over time to include other textiles such as leather. Items from Ksubi’s collections have been shown at such high-profile events as New York Fashion Week and London Fashion Week, and the company operates a flagship store in New York’s SOHO neighborhood.
6. Acne Studios Off-Centred Zipper Biker Jacket
Swedish fashion powerhouse Acne Studios is well-known for their basic wardrobe pieces, so it makes sense that they would have the classic leather jacket look on lock. We love the way this off-centered jacket packs a punch of personality with its multiple buckles and zippers, but we love even more the way that it does not compromise softness or comfort at the expense of appearance.
This jacket comes with a high-end price tag, but it has the high-end materials to match. It is made of 100% genuine lambskin and comes with an interior lining of 100% viscose. Its unique off-center zip takes its inspiration from street style.
7. Airin G-1 Black and White Leather Jacket
There’s only one way to improve upon a traditional bomber: Add shearling fabric. The Jacket Maker’s Airin G-1 Bomber will have ready to strap into the cockpit, ready to fly over Europe on a midnight air-raid. It has a thick polyester-lined collar as well as ribbed cuffs and waist for a nice, snug fit that keeps the wind at bay.
The Airin is made with real sheepskin, so it’s soft but super durable, making it a great choice for almost any type of casual wear. The dual front pouch pockets are great for a phone and a pair of gloves, so if you’re wearing it on a motorcycle, you’ll have the storage you need.
8. Saturdays NYC Leather Harrington Jacket
If you’re unfamiliar with the brand Saturdays NYC, prepare to fall in love. As a laidback lifestyle brand, Saturdays NYC infuses its love for all things surfer culture in all of its fashion offerings. While primarily known for their loungewear, such as sweats and pullover sweaters, they also happen to make one of the best leather jackets on the market right now.
The leather Harrington jacket features a smooth design and has deep pockets for your convenience. It is made of 100% lambskin leather and features a lining made of polyester. Staying true to its brand’s carefree nature, this jacket features a more relaxed fit than many classic leather jackets.
9. Berluti Piped Venezia Leather Jacket
Unlike the other options we’ve included so far, Berluti is known less for being a fashion brand and more for being a leather maker. Since its inception in the late 19th century, the Paris-based manufacturer has been producing fine leather clothing items and accessories, from belts to bags to jackets.
Berluti’s piped Venezia leather jacket is the apex of luxury leather fashion. Made from a distinctive brown shade, this jacket line has been around since the 1980s – and it’s a style that certainly stands the test of time.
This jacket is made from 100% authentic patinated calfskin leather and features shoulder patches and a buttoned collar. For optimal breathability, the jacket even features ventilation eyelets.
10. Dean Black Leather Biker Jacket
Let’s be honest.. A traditional racing-style biker jacket is about as cool as it gets. With the high band-style collar and heavy-duty zippers on the front of The Jacket Maker’s Dean Leather Biker Jacket, you’re sure to get that badass look.
The Dean is made with 100% real cowhide leather, so it might be a little stiff at first, but it will break in and patina like none other. The Dean features three zippered pockets on the front as well as zippered cuffs, providing that authentic racing jacket-look without killing your bank account.
11. Kingsman Burnished Leather Jacket
Kingsman is a line of high-quality clothing pieces that exists as a collaboration between Mr. Matthew Vaughn, director of the film The King’s Man, and international online fashion retailer MR PORTER. The line features items that are inspired by classic military style and timeless sensibilities.
The burnished leather jacket from the Kingsman line is unique for its length as well as its appearance. It draws direct inspiration from an aviator jacket worn on-screen in The King’s Man, a period piece that takes place in the 1940s. The jacket is made out of sturdy cow leather and buttons made of buffalo horns. It also features two linings – one made of cotton, and one made of viscose.
12. AllSaints Milo Leather Biker Jacket
AllSaints is a British fashion brand from the United Kingdom. Since its founding in the 1990s, it has grown to an international presence that consists of more than 200 retail stores across Europe, North America, and Asia. The brand is mostly focused on fashion for women and men, though it also sells footwear and other accessories. It has primarily seen its popularity grow thanks to its popularity among a celebrity clientele.
AllSaints makes a number of leather jackets, but the Milo biker jacket is definitely one to write home about. This is a jacket that brings out the very best of two very different worlds – including a soft composition and sharp edges – since it is made of tender lamb leather and decorated to the nines with perfectly-placed zippers and buckles. It also has a distinctive slim fit.
13. Golden Bear Sherpa Jacket
San Francisco brand Golden Bear may have its roots in ship workers in the San Francisco Bay since the 1920s, but it’s evolved today to combine both utilitarianism and high-end style. Although not as recognized outside of its native northern California, to know the stylish jackets of Golden Bear is to love them.
The sherpa jacket, in particular, is exquisite. Like any Golden Bear clothing piece, it’s designed to be worn for life, and fortunately, it comes with a style that will be sure to stay in fashion for decades to come, with brown distressed leather and a notable shearling collar that can be detached.
14. Tom Ford Zip-up Leather Jacket
Tom Ford is well-known for their high-end scents and formal clothing, but they have a strong foot in the casual jacket sphere as well. Not that this zip-up leather jacket is something you would wear to a casual house party. Its sleek edges and formal design make it more than suitable for a fancy professional event or night out on the town.
True to its brand’s roots, no attention to detail was spared in the creation of this particular wardrobe piece. Its straightforward design features 100% authentic leather and a cotton and polyamide lining. It is truly meant to last for life. Made in Italy, this jacket has shallow pockets in the front and a zipper down the center.
Leather Jacket FAQs
While there are many different unique leather jacket configurations out there, there are four classic syles you should be most aware of. In no particular order, they are the leather bomber jacket (also called aviator jacket), the leather racer jacket (sometimes called moto), the trenchcoat, and the fencer. While bomber jackets and racer jackets tend to be more relaxed, the trenchcoat and the fencer are more dramatic.
If you care for your leather jacket correctly you should have a wardrobe piece that’ll last you a lifetime. Most leather jackets cannot be washed at home and must only be handled professionally. The first step to taking proper care of your jacket is to adhere to this rule.
You should also keep your leather jacket dry as often as possible and keep it away from extreme heat or cold air. If you are not going to be wearing your leather jacket for a period of time, such as during a warm season, then you’ll want to be sure that you are hanging it up correctly – this means out of direct sunlight and in a properly-ventilated area.
Determining how much to pay for a leather jacket is a very personal matter. For an authentic leather jacket, you will probably be paying, at a baseline, $500. However, this price can easily skyrocket from here, depending on the jacket’s materials and manufacturing process.
Some leather jackets can cost as much as $10,000! There is no right or wrong number – it’s instead about the brands you like and the style that you envision for yourself.