Leave cupcake- and waffle-flavored vodkas to the kids. If you’re going to drink vodka—shunned so long by booze snobs for being boring, but now having something of a second coming—you should drink it Russian-style: very cold and straight-up, unadulterated by juices, mixes, and liqueurs.
But what brand to drink? Perhaps more than any other spirit, vodka spawns all manner of marketing gimmicks that consumers must wade through (like the aforementioned cupcake vodka). Thankfully, drinks guru David Wondrich offers some real talk in his latest Esquire column. According to Wondrich, you should go for a vodka that’s filtered twice, making for a thickened texture.
Of course, “twice-filtered” can be a vague descriptor, wielded by those marketing folks to pull the wool over your eyes. Wondrich break it down further: Vodka that passes through silver a prior filtration through charcoal has a creaminess not found in vodka that skips a second run through precious metal. The silver is the agent that changes the liquor. This results from the “catalytic action of silver or platinum, [which produces] trace levels of acetaldehyde, a compound that creates texture.”
Wondrich recommends a taste test between Russian Standard and the double-filtered Russian Standard Platinum for a direct comparison—both are available in the United States (price range $20-28).