The Great Vodka Taste Test

Our man in Moscow samples 11 premium brands in one wild night.

The First Nip

It was time to confront the fear. Thanks to a dare from vanityfair.com, there were 11 bottles of vodka in the freezer. When I nervously took a peek at them, I noticed that the freezers pall of frost had obscured the Cyrillic on their labels in a thick, crystalline haze. I was going to need some help.

The doorbell rang, and I welcomed a few friends into my apartment in a Brezhnev-era high-rise in central Moscow. They had arrived to lend a gullet in taste-testing the new breed of Russia’s premium vodkas. The editorial rationale? In the last several years Russia has seen a remarkable elevation in the status of its national drink, as a slew of premium brands has created an entirely new market for pricey vodka. And Moscow and St. Petersburg, Eastern Europe’s 21st-century capitals of wealth and decadence, are the places where these spirits are consumed with greatest enthusiasm.

This sounds like my kind of party.

Good friends … good booze … as long as there’s a good place to crash and sleep off the effects afterwards.

And I’m still looking for the premium tonics