Anyone who’s spent time on a college campus or toiled through the entry-level job grind has more than a passing familiarity with cheap vodka. We’re not proud of it, but we’ve done it. With any luck, you’ve moved beyond that phase of your life – but if you ever need to imbibe on a budget, Playboy spirits columnist Jason Horn is here to help you select the best bottom shelf vodka.
Horn bravely accepted the challenge of blind taste testing several cut-rate vodkas on camera for Indulgence, home of Playboy‘s food, drink, and nightlife coverage.
“What you’re looking for in a good vodka is something that’s basically inoffensive,” he says in the video. “You don’t want any off flavors, off smells, never anything bitter, never anything harsh, and it really shouldn’t burn going down.”
The taste test includes five different vodkas – Smirnoff, Svedka, UV, Popov, and Pinnacle – that are all available for under US$12, so if you do need to achieve maximum intoxication for minimum spend, they’re pretty solid bets. In fact, there’s an argument to be made that price has very little correlation with quality when it comes to spirits. Marketing may play a much bigger role than taste where vodka is concerned, and the same is true for tequila, gin, and rum.
But don’t take our word for it. Watch Jason suffer through each taste test in the clip above to learn which bottom-shelf vodka comes out on top.