By Pauline Gill

Vodka is the most versatile of all distilled spirits. It exists in practically every entrepreneurial culture around the world because it can be distilled from any fermented starch or grain that is abundant in a locale including barley, wheat or rye, and even potatoes. Since vodka is almost purely alcohol and water, it has little taste or smell, making it an excellent base for every variety of mixed drink. Vodka is available in alcoholic strengths of 35 to 50 percent or 70 to 100 proof. There are two basic varieties of vodka-over-ice drinks: alone with an optional garnish or mixed with some combination of fruit juice.

Make a Vodka-on-Ice Drink

Step 1

Fill a short tumbler with ice to the brim.

Step 2

Pour 2 fingers depth of vodka (2 oz.). Add a touch of chilled water if desired.

Step 3

Garnish to taste by putting lemon or lime slice over the rim, or stick olives or pearl onions on a toothpick.

Step 4

Serve with a stirrer, coaster and cocktail napkin.

Step 5

Fill a tall glass with ice to the brim.

Step 6

Pour 2 1/2 fingers depth of vodka (2 1/2 oz.), fill to 1/2 inch from brim with your choice of chilled juice, such as cranberry, orange, apple, tomato, or any combination.

Step 7

Garnish with orange slices for sweet juice drinks.

Step 8

Serve with a tall stirrer or cocktail straw, coaster and cocktail napkin.