Step one? Secure the goods. Step two? That's the fun part, which is why we’re exploring the best ways to drink premium vodka, from shots through to cocktails. Read on at your own risk and, as always, drink cautiously... 

To kick things off, here's a general tip: no matter how you’re about to enjoy your vodka, it needs to be cold. Like, really cold. And the best way to achieve this is by storing it in the freezer; don’t worry, it will stay liquified thanks to its super-low freezing point. If you forget, or don’t have room in the freezer, you can chill cold vodka further by briefly stirring it in a glass with ice, then straining. 

SHOTS

Vodka shots are traditional in more ways than one. Not only are they a standard go-to for when you want it quick and dirty, shots are also the main way to consume vodka in the countries that make up the so-called 'vodka belt’: Scandinavia, Russia, the Baltics, Belarus, Ukraine and Poland. In fact, in this part of the world, it’s not a celebration without them. The best way to do a vodka shot, according to the experts, is to exhale quickly, then swing your head back and drop the contents down your throat, without letting it really touch your tongue or mouth. It's easier said than done, but as always, practice makes perfect. Make sure you’re using small, 30mL shot glasses too, or you might not get through too many! 

WITH FOOD

In Russia, you’re more likely to find vodka on the dinner table than wine. Straight vodka is almost always served with a meal of snacks called ‘zakuski’, comprising things like pickles, meats, smoked fish and cucumbers. The idea is to take bites of food between sips of vodka – often late into the night. These rich, fatty and acidic foods mellow the taste of the vodka and combine to create a surprisingly great drink pairing. 

WITH LOTS OF TOASTING

Another standard practice amongst vodka belt countries is the toast. Since drinking vodka is always a social activity – it’s deemed strange to drink it alone – it’s usual to toast before every single shot is taken. These celebratory gratitudes may start out simple enough with ‘to our host’ or ‘to this evening’, but as the night goes on they can spiral into heartfelt soliloquies on life, love and everything in between. This may have something to do with their rule about never leaving an opened bottle of vodka half-drunk.

NEAT

Sipping is the ideal way to fully experience the true complexity of a premium vodka like Rusty Barrel. So, next time you're in the mood for mellow, slip into your favourite lounge chair, pour a splash into a short tumbler, and sip your vodka slowly. Notice the aroma and savour the taste on your tongue. If it’s a little too harsh on your palate, you can dilute with a touch of water. Tapping into the true depth and intensity might just give you a whole new appreciation for vodka.

ON THE ROCKS

It’s not super common to serve vodka ‘on the rocks’ – that’s generally left to our darker spirit counterparts. But we’re all about embracing anarchy, so if it’s calling your name, we say go nuts. Try garnishing your vodka with citrus fruits like blood orange, which will add a touch of tart sweetness. Just don't let anyone from the vodka belt catch you...

IN A COCKTAIL

When it comes to cocktails, you can either keep it simple and let the vodka shine, or mix it with other ingredients to create a full-flavoured treat. A classic highball of vodka, soda and lime always goes down easy, or if you’re not one to shy away from drinking vodka straight, take a leaf out of Bond’s book and mix up a martini. There’s the classic martini, with a hint of dry vermouth and a lemon twist (stirred, not shaken). Or the dirty martini, which brings olive brine into the mix, or even a Vesper, which combines vodka, gin and Lillet blanc.

Other iconic vodka cocktails include a Bloody Mary (the classic hair of the dog brunch beverage) and the Moscow Mule, which we’ve recently put our own spin on and released in a can. And if you want something with a Rusty Barrel twist? Check out our post on cocktails to get you through the apocalypse, including the Helter-Skelter and Flesh Wound. Alternatively, try experimenting for yourself and let us know what you come with.