Vodka can be a bar’s workhorse spirit. It provides the backbone for some of the scene’s most popular drinks, from the trendy Espresso Martini to the humble Vodka Soda. Its neutrality can also provide a cocktail’s anticipated pop of alcohol without masking the flavors of its other ingredients. In some cases, a vodka imbued with a little flavoring can even be a bartender’s friend, whether that flavoring comes straight out of the bottle or through something fancy like an infusion.

Although vodka is a neutral-grain spirit, different brands can carry distinct yet nuanced characteristics that make them unique. Skilled bartenders can identify these singular properties and use them to their advantage. But which brands are beloved behind the bar? To find out, we asked 14 bartenders what vodka they prefer to use in their drinks.

The best vodkas for cocktails, according to bartenders:

  • Reyka Vodka
  • Good Vodka
  • Haku Vodka
  • Flavored Vodkas in general
  • Ketel One Vodka
  • ALB Vodka
  • Square One Vodka
  • State Line Vodka
  • Skyy Vodka
  • Thatcher’s Organic Vodka

Reyka Vodka is one of the best vodkas for mixing cocktails, according to bartenders.

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Reyka is my default bottle when I’m mixing up something with vodka. It’s an easily accessible, affordable spirit with a polished mouthfeel, and the snap of citrus on the back end lends itself well to multiple cocktail applications. We use it in our house Espresso Martinis at Traveling Mercies and Annette, but if I’m out for the night and looking for a refreshing ‘halftime’ drink to reset my palate, a Reyka soda with a lemon twist is always my call.” —Matt Bazcor, bar manager, Annette and Traveling Mercies, Aurora, Colo.

“One of my favorite vodkas for creating cocktails is going to be Reyka. It’s made in Iceland and is filtered through — get this, friends — volcanic rock. The flavor profile of this vodka plays well with others but also stands great on its own. Want to make an ice-cold, slightly dirty Martini? This is your vodka. Want to make something a little more refreshing with some lime, fruit, and soda? Reyka will blend right in. This is a great vodka, and it also delivers a lot of value at its price point.” —Eliza Hoar, principal bartender, Equal Measure, Boston

Good Vodka is one of the best vodkas for mixing cocktails, according to bartenders.

“I prefer using Good Vodka for mixing cocktails. It’s made from the coffee fruit that is leftover from coffee production. With a creamy texture and light cocoa and tropical fruit notes, it adds to anything that it’s mixed with.” —Nick Jackson, head bartender, The Rum House, NYC

“One of my favorite vodkas to work with right now is Good Vodka. Made from waste from coffee production in Colombia, Good Vodka is on a mission to reduce water waste and carbon emissions with their product, and because they’re buying waste from farmers, they’re also creating a whole new revenue stream for them. The vodka itself has an amazing taste and mouthfeel, and it kind of reminds me more of a pisco in flavor, which makes it super fun to work with in cocktails.” —Alex Jump, founder and director of operations, Focus on Health/founder, Dim Lights Hospitality, Denver

Haku Vodka is one of the best vodkas for mixing cocktails, according to bartenders.

“My recommendation has to be Haku Vodka. Produced by House of Suntory and made with 100 percent white rice, it creates a great starting point for cocktails. It’s reasonably priced and has a pleasant mouthfeel due to the bamboo charcoal filtration used during production. A freezer Martini would be ideal to highlight this vodka. Serve it with some oysters or sashimi and you have the perfect pairing.” —Julian Flores Torres, bar lead, Maizano/Entre Nos, Costa Mesa, Calif.

“I am one of those bartenders that feels strongly about all vodka being the same, especially when it comes to mixing. Now flavored vodka… that’s another story. Flavored vodka can be great and be used in a variety of ways. Citron Vodka is probably the most popular; Cosmopolitans wouldn’t be the same without it. I also like using a cucumber-flavored vodka to make a cucumber-sage cordial. Fresh cucumber juice spoils pretty quickly, so to get that hint of cucumber flavor without wasting a ton of good produce, the cucumber-flavored vodka can come through in the clutch.” —Diego Deleon, beverage manager, Kaori, Miami

Ketel One is one of the best vodkas for mixing cocktails, according to bartenders.

Ketel One, to me, is the best vodka for mixing cocktails. Everything the Nolet family does seems to exceed my expectations as far as quality and versatility is concerned. Ketel One, in particular, has achieved what seemingly every vodka brand strives to do: provide a clean and crisp flavor that pairs with nearly anything. If you want a tart, bright vodka Gimlet, then Ketel One is your gal to showcase the refreshing acidity and comforting sweetness that comes along with that classic. If you’re craving a Martini — whether that’s dry, wet, or dirty — Ketel One is the vehicle that provides a clean palate so that even the most subtle hints of vermouth, citrus oil, or brine will shine. If ever I am craving a vodka cocktail, Ketel One is always my call.” —Grace Tomczak, lead bartender, MAKfam, Denver

“My favorite is Ketel One Vodka because it’s so smooth and great for infusing. It’s super clean and really soaks up the flavors of whatever you’re infusing or mixing it with. While some vodkas have a super-strong alcohol flavor, Ketel is much milder because it’s made through a dual distillation process. I’d recommend it to anyone looking for an affordable vodka that’s great for mixing.” —Fionna Gemzon, bar manager, None of the Above, St. Louis.

“One of the best vodkas for mixing is still, to this day, Ketel One. Designed in the ‘80s specifically with bartenders and cocktails in mind, the generations of distilling knowledge that the Nolet family puts into Ketel One means that the texture and quality of the distillation really shines in everything from Martinis to sours.” —Adam Fournier, bar director, Spago, Beverly Hills, Calif.

Square One is one of the best vodkas for mixing cocktails, according to bartenders.

Square One’s lineup of rye vodkas. I’ve always been a fan of rye vodkas for most mixing scenarios, as the robust grain just shines on its own and stands up to other ingredients. Their flagship brand, Square One Organic, has the most unique and delicious approach to flavors. Square One Basil makes an insane basil Gimlet, and their Cucumber flavor is the best on the market, especially for a Cucumber Collins.” —H. Joseph Ehrman, proprietor, Elixir, San Francisco

State Line is one of the best vodkas for mixing cocktails, according to bartenders.

“Vodka is a super-easy spirit category to snag a local distillery product and make it shine, yet most bartenders are told which vodka they need to be mixing with by either management or guests. So, in the rare chance I have to create or mix with a vodka of my choice, I tend to go local, and right now, that’s State Line Vodka. It’s smooth, wheat-based, and hits all my marks.” —Tripper Duval, owner and janitor, Lost Whale, Milwaukee

Skyy Vodka is one of the best vodkas for mixing cocktails, according to bartenders.

“Over the years, I’ve gained a certain appreciation for the role vodka plays in a cocktail bar. Skyy Vodka stands out to me because of its remarkable versatility. It blends seamlessly with other ingredients and provides vodka enthusiasts with distinct yet balanced flavors, all while maintaining an attractive price point.” —Nik Sparks, head bartender and beverage director, The Wooly, NYC

ALB Vodka is one of the best vodkas for mixing cocktails, according to bartenders.

“For anything shaken with citrus, I prefer using ALB Vodka, coming from Albany Distilling Co. It’s 100 percent American corn vodka, it’s local, and it’s clean and crisp. I use it at The Golden Swan in the Dorothy Day cocktail alongside Clear Creek Pear Brandy, GE Massenez Golden 8 Pear Liqueur, St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram, honey syrup, orange, and lemon juice. It’s refreshing, seasonally spiced, and a favorite among our guests.” —Andy May, head bartender, The Golden Swan, NYC

Thatcher's Vodka is one of the best vodkas for mixing cocktails, according to bartenders.

“Allow me to paint you a vibrant picture composed of beautiful, sunny corn fields and quiet country life, framed by tulips and a host of other flowers. However, this is not just a wild fantasy placed on canvas with the painter’s palette. On the outskirts of Temperance, Mich., you will find not only this marvelous scene, but also Thatcher’s Distillery. Thatcher’s Organic Vodka is made using only natural ingredients utilizing an entirely organic distillation process. This true gem of purest vodka brings an unbelievable crisp and fresh taste, and it’s perfect to enjoy on the rocks or in a wide variety of cocktails. My suggestion would be a twist on a Vesper Martini: Pair it with birch water syrup, a gentle touch of gentian liqueur, and lemon zest to realize that vibrant picture right on your palate.” —Petr Balcarovsky, lead bartender, The Apparatus Room at Detroit Foundation Hotel, Detroit