How To Make Vodka (at Home) & 5 Cocktail Recipes
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If there’s one drink my girlfriend is completely crazy about, it’s Vodka Cranberry. She loves it because it's simple, refreshing, and super easy to make at home during a pandemic!
But oh, she misses her Bloody Marys with her friends at brunch on the weekends. That’s why every waking moment at home during the lockdown, she has decided to look into making her own vodka as a hobby.
I had experience with beer and wine, but this was a whole new ballgame. With all the time in the world and days of internet research (and the help of some of our brewing friends) she took the plunge and decided to try her hand at it.
So how do you make your own vodka at home? Picking out your ingredients, making your mash, fermenting, and then distilling are the main steps. Once broken down, it can be quite simple. You can even put your own spin on it to create unique flavors.
Let’s face it, there are a few steps and a lengthy process to making your own vodka at home. But it doesn’t have to be hard!
I will share her discoveries and hopefully help you make your very own homemade vodka, too. Let’s get started!
Read Also: Is Vodka a Ladies Drink?
What Do You Need to Make Vodka?
Starches or sugars.
Vodka is created by producing a mash from carbohydrates.
The molecules in these ingredients are broken down during the process, turning it into alcohol.
Some of the popular choices are corn, potatoes, rice, wheat, barley, and rye.
TIP: You can also bypass the mash and go for a fruit juice bought from the store. If you go with this method, there’s no need for a mash. You can go right to fermentation.
Molasses is another sugar option, as well!
If you decide to create a mash, you could need a food-grade amylase enzyme powder to break down the starches into sugars. You can also use malted barley or wheat.
If you’re using malted whole grains or sugars, you don’t need to worry about the enzymes, as you’ll be able to go straight to fermentation.
Bottled, filtered water.
Using filtered water will help save your vodka from any possible contaminants that may come from tap water.
You’ll also need some supplies to do all of the mashing, fermenting, and distilling in.
Some of these include a large metal pot and lid, fermentation vessels, airlocks, etc.
We will go over more of this type of supply in the steps below!
Read Also: Best Moonshine Kits Compared
Is Vodka The Easiest Alcohol to Make?
When defining the "best, easiest, hardest", there's always a lot of variables that come into play. First, you have to ask yourself what you really want to make, each method has various difficulties depending on what type of beer, wine or spirit you want to make.
However, in this case we can tell you that no, vodka is not the easiest alcohol to make. Though easy, it's not the so called "easiest".
Mead is probably the easiest alcohol to make, at least for beginners, as it is pretty straightforward.
In case you want to make alcohol that you can enjoy fast, beer is probably the way to go for you. Wine and spirits generally have longer fermenting processes than beer.
Read Also: What Is The Easiest Alcohol To Make?
How to Make Vodka at Home
#1 Make your mash.
The first thing you need to do to make your own vodka is to get started creating your mash.
There are a few different types of carbs you can use, as we talked about earlier, but today we will be using potatoes!
Specifically, 20 pounds of potatoes.
Make sure to clean your potatoes well, but don’t peel them.
Put the potatoes in a large boiling kettle for about an hour, or until gelatinised. Once they’re done, get rid of the water and mash the potatoes. You can use your hands or food processor, whichever you prefer.
Put them back into the kettle, add about five or six gallons of water, stir and bring to 150 degrees Fahrenheit. Add two pounds of malted barley or wheat and mix it all up well. Once all of that is mixed together, cover (while still occasionally stirring) and let cook for two hours.
Let the mash cool overnight to give the enzymes in the malted barley or wheat time to break down the carbohydrates.
#2 Let it ferment.
Before you get started fermenting, choose your container and airlock and make sure it's all cleaned and sanitized thoroughly to avoid any unwanted flavors.
Strain your mash into your vessel (5 gallons of strained mash fit well in a 7.5-gallon foodservice bucket) using a fine metal strainer.
TIP: It’s okay to let it splash. In fact, splashing is good for it, as your mash will need oxygen at the very beginning to start the fermentation process.
At this point, you may also want to pour in a sugar solution. Do this from a distance as well for good aeration.
If you went with a fruit juice instead of a mash, now is the time to pour that through a strainer and into the container, as well.
After you’ve got your mash (or juice) in the vessel, add in yeast and stir. Here is a useful guide on how much yeast to use.
If you are using distiller’s yeast, you can just follow the instructions on the packet or if there are none, use one tablespoon for every 5 gallons of mash.
If you’re using bread yeast, follow the instructions here to make a good starter mix.
Once this is done, put the lid and airlock of choice on. Once the bubbling has stopped, the fermentation is done, and what you are left with is called your wash.
At this point, you can collect the wash into a clean container for distilling, leaving the sediment behind.
#3 Distilling time.
One of the last steps is the distillation process.
Put the wash in the boiling chamber of a distillation apparatus and heat it up. Vaporized alcohol will move through the tubes and be deposited into the collection chamber.
IMPORTANT: Be sure to throw out the first and last 50 milliliters, as that part of the mix can be really dangerous to consume.
For the best results, repeat the distillation process two or more times. Each time, the first and last 50 milliliters should be discarded.
#4 Filter the distillate.
Once you’ve got our collections, run it through a carbon filter to make it nice and smooth.
After the distillate is filtered, add in filtered water until you reach the desired alcohol percentage. You can find out the strength by using an alcoholmeter. You can find many options in Amazon. We wrote an entire article about it:
Once you’ve reached your desired strength, the only thing there is left to do is bottle it!
You can add in additional flavors if you like, such as fruits and berries or vanilla.
Let it sit for about ten days to really pick up those different flavors.
5 Easy Cocktail Recipes With Vodka
Now that we’ve learned how to make our own vodka at home, I wanted to share a few of my girlfriend’s favorite drink recipes!
#1 Bloody Mary
Her favorite at-home: Bloody Mary.
Though, a Bloody Mary can really be whatever you want it to be. You can add some pretty outrageous stuff to it, like burger sliders or hotdogs.
I’ve even seen Bloody Mary shots in glasses made out of hamburger meat!
The sky's the limit, but this recipe is my girlfriend’s favorite base for all of the crazy and unique concoctions.
INGREDIENTS (6 DRINKS) :
- 3 cups tomato juice
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 3/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
- 3/4 teaspoon celery salt
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse black pepper
- 1/3 cup pickle juice
- 1 ounce vodka, per drink
- Throw everything but the celery salt, pepper, and vodka in a blender until it’s nice and smooth.
- Chill in the refrigerator for a few hours (or overnight).
- When you’re ready to drink, pour it over ice and add in one ounce of vodka.
- From there, you can add celery, olives, and any garnish you would like.
Have fun with it and you could just about turn this typical brunch drink into a whole meal.
#2 Yummly’s Watermelon Sangria
This recipe is perfect for summer. Or spring.
Or really any time of year that you want to enjoy a refreshing watermelon beverage with a kick.
INGREDIENTS (5 DRINKS) :
- 6 cups watermelon (cubed plus extra for garnish)
- 2 bottles of white wine (chardonnay or sauvignon blanc)
- 2 cups watermelon vodka
- 2 cans La Croix Sparkling Water (lime)
- Lime for garnish
Quite simple. Just mix all of the ingredients together and serve over ice.
Garnish with lime, lemon, or even mint if you like.
#3 Fall Spiced Tonic
This recipe from is a great fall cocktail.
We served it this weekend at a family party, and it was a huge hit. So many drinks are fruity and great for summer but finding a good go-to cocktail for the colder months can be challenging.
This one is a definite winner!
INGREDIENTS (1 DRINK) :
- 1 1/2 ounces apple-pear-cinnamon vodka
- 1 splash simple syrup
- 5 ounces tonic water
- Apple slices for garnish
- Fill a highball glass with ice and fill with the vodka and simple syrup.
- Mix that together, and then add in the tonic water.
- Top it off with garnish
TIP: Apples go pretty well with it; it’s great for fall and gives the drink a cider feel to it.
#4 Pumpkin White Russian
Keeping with the fall-drink theme, a Pumpkin Spice White Russian is another favorite during our holiday gatherings.
It’s basically like drinking a dessert and is perfect for after dinner, giving an autumn spin on a classic cocktail.
INGREDIENTS (1 DRINK) :
- 1 oz pumpkin spice Kahlua
- 2 oz vodka
- 1 oz heavy cream
This is another great, simple drink to make.
All you have to do is mix all of the ingredients together and serve over ice.
#5 The Moscow Mule
Moscow mules are one of the most popular drink to order at holiday parties and fancy dinners.
This year, we’ll be staying in a lot more, so we wanted to learn how to make it at home.
This is a recipe that’s easy to make and tastes super good, and we can’t wait to use it this holiday season with family gatherings.
INGREDIENTS (1 DRINK) :
- 2 ounces vodka
- 1/2 ounce lime juice
- 4 ounces ginger beer
- Lime for garnish
- A Copper mug, because a mule isn’t a mule without the mug
- Start off by filling your copper mug with ice.
- Add in the vodka and lime juice
- Pour in the ginger beer and top it off with lime.
It’s so simple to make yourself.
You can make this cocktail even better by adding in some apple cider to taste.
Making your own vodka at home is definitely a process, but once you get the hang of it, it’s super simple and can be a great hobby!
You’ll need a few ingredients and supplies, and don’t forget to remove the first and last 50 milliliters after distilling. That part is really important for your health and safety!
Vodka is fun to make because you can customize it after distilling by infusing it with different fruits.
There are also so many different recipes that you can make using vodka that you’re sure to find something you and your friends like.
Adding a personal twist by making it with your own vodka makes the cocktails that much better!
We hope you enjoyed this guide on how to make your own vodka at home, and that you liked one of our favorite recipes.
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