Vodka: A Good-For-Nothing Spirit or a Go-To Staple?

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I was traveling last week for a conference and met up with some old friends for drinks. Most of us ordered interesting-sounding house cocktails (Lavender + Pisco!) but one friend ordered vodka and seltzer water. The crowd pounced: Vodka?! Who drinks vodka anymore?

Personally, I think vodka has its time and place. I love a good Moscow Mule, and when I make a fruity juice cocktail (with something like grapefruit, for example) I think it's a waste to use gin because the nuanced flavors get lost. You need a "blank slate" spirit and that's how I think of vodka. Vodka remains popular among cocktail drinkers because it doesn't have a strong flavor profile, so it's an easy mixing spirit. (Also good for folks who are easing into cocktails.)

Recently, Michael Ruhlman wrote about a lemon cocktail that features vodka. He described vodka as "America’s go-to, boneless-skinless-chicken-breast default spirit" (with the caveat that he, too, likes it on occasion). 

Get Michael Ruhlman's Recipe: The Lemon Drop

So, question: do you keep vodka around the house for mixing or do you prefer to take the plunge into more experimental, interesting spirits? Where do you stand with vodka?

Related: Best Liquors: What is Your Favorite Vodka and Why?

(Images: Maureen Petrosky)

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