The Best And Worst Mixers For Your Vodka, Ranked

Whether you're relaxing with friends or unwinding after a long day, mixed drinks are a great choice for an alcoholic beverage. There are plenty of liquors you can use to make mixed drinks, and one common pick is vodka. Vodka is a clear liquor with a high alcohol content and no distinct flavor. Using a mixer can help add different tasting notes and take some of the bite out of the alcohol, and there are tons of mixers available.

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The difference between a cocktail and a mixed drink is that the former have at least three ingredients, while the latter have at least two. This means mixed drinks are super easy to make, and incredibly versatile. Vodka is used in a variety of cocktails, but if you're looking for something simple, adding a mixer is the way to go. We've combed the web for opinions and reviews — and added some personal opinions of our own — to bring you a ranking of the best and worst mixers for your vodka.

15. Espresso

Espresso is a type of coffee drink made using an espresso machine to produce highly concentrated coffee. Espresso martinis are quite popular, so you might think that you can just mix some espresso and vodka together and call it a day. You would be wrong.

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The ingredients that make espresso martinis shine are simple syrup and coffee liqueur, both of which help to balance out the sharper elements of the coffee and vodka. Without these, you end up with an incredibly bitter drink, making pure espresso a poor choice for a vodka mixer. On top of that, mixing vodka and caffeine is not the greatest option for your health; espresso martinis can give you a bad hangover, because both the alcohol and caffeine dehydrate you. They can also exacerbate health conditions, particularly heart conditions, as the two can raise heart rate and blood pressure.

That being said, if you're healthy and hydrated, espresso martinis and their creamier, sweeter cousin, the mudslide, can be a delicious treat. They're great dessert cocktails, especially mudslides, as they're typically served with ice cream. Unfortunately, espresso martinis are one of the drinks bartenders hate making because they can be tedious to put together.

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14. Red Bull

The thing about mixing Red Bull and vodka is that it's not actually a bad tasting drink. In fact, Red Bull is a fairly popular option for a vodka mixer. However, it can be dangerous to add to your vodka.

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Red Bull, from a mixing standpoint, suffers from the same problem as espresso: the caffeine. A can of Red Bull has more caffeine than a shot of espresso, meaning it's more likely to lead to dehydration and an elevated heart rate. On top of that, Red Bull is great at masking the taste of the vodka, and the caffeine makes you feel more alert so you can keep drinking. This combination increases the risk of binge drinking, and you might not even realize you're doing it.

It's the same reason the original Four Loko was banned: people are more likely to binge drink, and drinking too many in one sitting can cause alcohol to build up in your bloodstream. This can lead to alcohol overdose, which can potentially cause irreversible brain damage and even death.

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13. Ginger beer

Ginger beer, like root beer, isn't actually beer. The original recipe contained alcohol, but the ginger beer you find on shelves today contains little to no alcohol. Ginger beer is a carbonated beverage with a strong ginger taste, as well as some other flavors. It's different from ginger ale, which has a milder, sweeter taste.

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Ginger beer is a key ingredient in a classic Moscow mule recipe, a drink that also includes vodka, lime juice, and a sprig of mint, traditionally served in a copper mug. The lime juice adds a hint of sweet and sour that the drink would otherwise be missing. Moscow mules are incredibly popular cocktails; unfortunately, that lime is really needed to pull it all together. Without it, your drink can end up overwhelmingly spicy. This, of course, depends on the specific ginger beer you use, but if you're looking for a one-ingredient mixer, try the sweeter ginger ale instead.

12. Dark sodas

Dark sodas, like Coke, Pepsi, and their diet variants, are pretty popular mixers for liquor. There's nothing particularly wrong with mixing Coke and vodka, especially if you really like your dark sodas; it's just a little boring, and there are more interesting options out there.

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Coke and Pepsi tend to do a good job of masking the taste of alcohol. To mix up a vodka and Coke, combine one part vodka with two parts of the dark soda of your choice. Coke and Pepsi are classics, but you can also try Dr Pepper or root beer for different flavors.

Although dark sodas often have caffeine, it's usually a lot less than you'll find in an espresso shot or energy drink, making it not nearly as dangerous. However, be cautious when using diet sodas. The lack of real sugar in the drink increases the rate at which your body absorbs the alcohol, making you get drunk faster.

11. Lemon-lime soda

In the same vein as dark sodas, lemon-lime sodas like Sprite and Starry are popular choices to mix with vodka. They offer a fizzy, citrusy, sweet taste to the vodka that many people really like. Vodka and Sprite isn't a bad combination; it's just not a creative one. To take it to another level, add a splash of grenadine for a drink similar to a dirty Shirley Temple.

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That being said, tons of excellent cocktails use a combination of vodka and lemon-lime soda. The zipper cocktail is made with equal parts vodka, lemon-lime soda, and raspberry liqueur to create a sweet and tart summer cocktail. Another great summer cocktail is a sex in the driveway, which is made with one ounce of peach schnapps, one ounce of blue curaçao, two ounces of vodka, and four ounces of Sprite. Or make an actual dirty Shirley by mixing vodka, lemon-lime soda, and maraschino cherries.

10. Carbonated water

There are multiple types of carbonated water: club soda, seltzer, tonic water, and sparkling water. They can all be mixed with vodka, but they aren't always interchangeable. Club soda and sparkling water have minerals in them, while seltzer usually doesn't. Tonic water has added minerals, but also contains a bitter compound called quinine. It's especially important to know when to use seltzer versus club soda versus tonic water for your cocktails, as they all have different tastes.

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Vodka tonics are common drinks, but they can veer on too bitter if you don't add a splash of something acidic, like lime juice. However, plenty of people enjoy vodka with tonic and other carbonated waters, even if they don't have additional flavorings. That being said, one benefit of mixing with carbonated waters is that there are tons of flavored carbonated waters on the market, so you can choose whatever suits your taste buds the best.

9. Iced tea

Another classic vodka mixer is iced tea. Like the name suggests, iced tea is tea served cold, and it can be made sweetened or unsweetened. When mixing with vodka, it's usually best to use sweetened tea, as the unsweetened version can end up making your mixed drink too bitter.

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To make an iced tea and vodka drink, use six parts iced tea for every one part vodka. A bonus to using iced tea is that, like carbonated water, it's often available in a variety of flavors such as raspberry, peach, and lemon. You can also add a splash of lemon juice to your mixed drink to enhance the flavor.

Interestingly, Long Island iced teas are made with vodka, but not with actual tea. Instead, these drinks, with a bizarre origin story, combine vodka, gin, white rum, white tequila, triple sec, lemon juice, and a splash of cola. To make a Long Island iced tea with tea, swap the cola for tea, and add an additional splash of sparkling water.

8. Tomato juice

When most people think of tomato juice and vodka, they think of bloody marys. Touted as a hangover cure thanks to the high amount of vitamins and antioxidants, bloody marys are a hugely popular cocktail. However, they're made up of more than just tomato juice and vodka; they typically also include Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, and lemon juice, although recipes vary. And, of course, you can't forget the signature celery stalk.

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These extra ingredients are necessary because plain old tomato juice and vodka don't make for a great drink. It lacks the heat and depth that the sauces provide, and is missing the brightness of the lemon juice. Bloody marys are meant to be savory drinks, but without those extra ingredients, they're bland and taste a little strange. Instead, make yourself a classic bloody mary, or add something like a little beef broth to take it to another level.

7. Cream

Mixing vodka with cream may seem like an odd choice, but there are plenty of cream liqueurs on the market. While it's not for everyone, mixing something like heavy whipping cream with vodka can make for a drink that tastes kind of like a blend of ice cream and alcohol. The cream adds a sweetness to the vodka that creates an unexpectedly dessert-like drink. You can get a similar effect by using milk and sugar to sweeten up vodka. Don't worry about the vodka curdling the milk, as that's unlikely to happen, especially when you use something like cream with a higher fat content.

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There are also tons of vodka cocktails made with cream. For example, this decadent mudslide cocktail uses vodka and cream, as well as Bailey's Irish Cream, coffee liqueur, and chocolate syrup. Or check out this classic white Russian recipe, which is easy to make with two ounces of vodka, one ounce of heavy whipping cream, and one ounce of coffee liqueur.

6. Pomegranate juice

Pomegranates are often considered superfruits because they're high in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. They have a rich flavor similar to cranberries and grapes, somewhat sweet and tart. Pomegranate juice makes an excellent vodka mixer because it brings this playful flavor combination to the drink. The deep flavor of pomegranate juice also results in a drink that almost tastes somewhat like red wine.

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Pomegranate juice can also be used to make cocktails, such as a pomegranate martini made with pomegranate juice, vodka, orange liqueur, and lime juice, or an even simpler pomegranate vodka gimlet that uses just vodka, pomegranate juice, and lime juice. You can also swap cranberry juice with pomegranate juice for a fun twist on a classic cosmopolitan. In fact, due to the similar flavors between cranberry and pomegranate, pomegranate makes an excellent substitution in several drinks, especially if you want something a little less tart than typical cranberry.

5. Orange juice

For a drink that brings a little tartness but a lot of citrus, try mixing vodka with orange juice. Vodka and orange juice is a great flavor combination, as the tart flavor of the orange juice brings a brightness to the vodka, while the vodka tones down the sweetness of the orange juice just a bit.

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Orange juice and vodka are all that a classic screwdriver cocktail recipe calls for, but they are key ingredients in several cocktails as well. Vodka sunrises are made with orange juice, vodka, and grenadine. You can also take it a step further and make a desert sunrise, which requires orange juice, vodka, grenadine, and pineapple juice. Sex on the beach cocktails are a popular summer drink made of vodka, orange juice, cranberry juice, and peach schnapps, and another popular drink, the Harvey Wallbanger, requires only vodka, orange juice, and Galliano, a yellow herbal liqueur.

4. Grapefruit juice

Another great fruit juice option is grapefruit juice. The large, round, orange-colored fruits are known for being both sweet and sour. It's usually a little more tart than orange juice, but when blended with vodka, it doesn't taste quite as sour. Instead, the vodka tapers down the tartness while letting the sweet side of grapefruit shine for a tasty, summery drink.

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A  drink made with just grapefruit juice and vodka is called a Greyhound cocktail. The drink has several variations, such as the shifting sands cocktail, which adds maraschino liqueur; the London light cocktail, made by adding pomegranate juice to the mix; and the sea breeze, a fun summer drink made with grapefruit juice, vodka, and cranberry juice.

However, while Greyhounds and their variations are super tasty, be cautious when drinking grapefruit juice if you take prescription medication. Grapefruit juice can inhibit the breakdown of medication within the body, resulting in more of your medication entering the bloodstream and staying in the blood longer. Check with your doctor if you're unsure whether grapefruit juice is safe to drink with your prescription.

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3. Lemonade

Vodka lemonade is a basic, easy drink for warm spring and summer days. The sweet taste of the lemonade easily overpowers the sharp taste of vodka, making lemonade one of the top three best choices to partner with vodka. Vodka is also one of the best liquors to mix into lemonade, creating a killer combination for relaxing on the porch, by the pool, or at a barbecue.

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All you need to make a delicious vodka lemonade is one part vodka to three parts lemonade, with basil leaves for an elevated touch if you'd like. Any lemonade can work: classic, pink, or flavored, such as strawberry or raspberry lemonade. Vodka and lemonade also form the basis for another summer drink, the Blue Lagoon cocktail. This vibrant blue cocktail originated in France, and is made with one ounce of vodka, one ounce of blue curaçao, four ounces of lemonade, and garnished with a lemon wheel and a maraschino cherry.

2. Cranberry juice

Vodka cranberry mixed drinks are some of the most well-known vodka drinks out there. Also called a Cape Codder, it's easy to make with just two ingredients: cranberry juice and vodka. Most are garnished with a lime wedge, but that's not a requirement. This drink is incredibly simple and doesn't require any additional tools, making cranberry juice one of the top mixers for vodka.

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Cranberry juice adds a hint of sweetness and a lot of tartness to the vodka, balancing out the sharp taste of the alcohol. This makes cranberry a popular choice for vodka cocktails, including the sea breeze and its cousin the bay breeze, which uses cranberry juice, vodka, and pineapple juice. Of course, who can forget the cosmopolitan, one of the most classic drinks. Cosmopolitan cocktail recipes use citrus-flavored vodka (although unflavored is fine, too), cranberry juice, Cointreau, and lime juice, and are garnished with an orange peel.

1. Pineapple juice

Pineapple juice has a strong but sweet, tropical flavor that makes it a great mixer for many different liquors, including vodka. A typical vodka pineapple drink uses one part vodka to two or three parts pineapple juice. The pineapple juice overpowers most of the vodka's sharp taste, but the vodka also helps temper the sweetness of the pineapple, creating a tasty, balanced summer drink.

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Pineapple juice and vodka are also used in a variety of tropical cocktails that make you feel like you're at the beach, like the Bay Breeze mentioned above, sometimes called an Island Breeze cocktail or a pineapple screwdriver, made with vodka, pineapple juice, and orange juice. Another tropical option is the chi chi cocktail, similar to a piña colada but made with vodka instead of rum, pineapple juice, and cream of coconut. For a more glam cocktail, check out this classic French martini recipe, which is simple to make with vodka, pineapple juice, and Chambord.

How did we rank these vodka mixers?

There are tons of things you can mix with vodka, and the truth is, a lot of what tastes good with vodka is subjective. To determine the order above, I searched across the internet, looking for reviews of various vodka mixers. I also looked at which mixers were commonly used in cocktails. Finally, I did some testing myself so I could give a better explanation of flavor, and come up with more concrete rankings.

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