Smooth, versatile vodka makes an ideal canvas for cocktails. From pristine martinis to drinks that showcase seasonal fruit or fresh-picked herbs, the spirit plays well with other flavors.

For those ready to move beyond the usual suspects, here are five kicked-up sippers to try that feature cool, crisp vodka—perfect for summertime enjoyment. We’ve encouraged the bartenders included to call out their preferred brands in each recipe, but feel free to substitute your favorite selection, or check New Flavored Vodkas to Sip This Summer for a list of recommended bottles.

Simply Put

Some of these recipes call for simple syrup—it’s easy to make, we promise. Stir together equal parts hot water and sugar in a saucepan until the sugar dissolves. Allow to cool. The syrup can be stored in a refrigerator up to two weeks.

Jump straight to a recipe 

 Strawberry Balsamic Vodka Cocktail

White Manhattan Vodka Cocktail

Melon-choly Vodka Cocktail

Frozen Vodka Espresso Cocktail

West Side Vodka Cocktail