Growing up, my parents had friends from Ukraine who used to throw the craziest parties. Living in a small college town, it was rare that the professors, including my parents and their friends, hit the bar scene where they might run into their students. Instead, they had raging house parties, and whenever this couple was the one to throw the party, I would hear stories from my parents about cold vodka shots followed by a dill pickle as a chaser. That’s how I first learned that vodka was supposed to be stored in the freezer, so that it could be ready at a moment’s notice for an ice-cold shot. It was important to always have a jar of dill pickles around, too.

For most vodka, storing it in the freezer is the way to go because it has been distilled to the point of being pretty much odorless and flavorless, so keeping it and serving it at a freezing temperature isn’t going to impact it all that much. In fact, it will probably make the shot much easier to handle.

But if you’re dealing with a premium vodka that does have some nuance to it, pulling it straight out of the freezer and pouring it into a shot glass means you’re going to miss a lot of that nuance. It will sadly be muted by the freezing temperature. So, if you have a really nice vodka, store it on your bar cart instead and then stir with ice and strain to serve. And you can still follow it with a pickle.

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