It’s summertime, a k a vodka and tonic time! Vodka is a timeless spirit that plays an intriguing role in mixology. While it’s flavorless and odorless by definition, it’s the backbone of some of the most popular cocktails under the summer sun.

And because vodka and ice are BFFs, it’s definitely worth keeping some on hand when you want to keep your cool during the hot months.

To kick off V&T season, Royal Wine Corp., importer of LVOV Vodka, wants everyone to know about this indispensable summer spirit. Read on for some fun vodka facts.

Vodka is versatile. It’s the invisible star of countless cocktail classics, from Bloody Marys, screwdrivers, Moscow mules to white and black Russians, cosmos, and Long Island iced teas.

Vodka can be distilled from, well … just about anything. Most are made from fermented grains like rye, rice, barley, corn, oats, and wheat. Russian and Polish distillers make use of the abundance of potatoes that grow there. Lately, producers have been crafting interesting vodkas from beets, fruits, quinoa, and even milk!

Even the water makes a difference. Mineral water, glacial water, and chalky water all impart certain characteristics on the finished product, as does the way the water is filtered. It can be drawn through charcoal or bedrock, lava, meteorites, or quartz. Some producers go so far as to filter through diamond dust and black pearls.

Vodka has that certain je ne sais quoi. Yes, it’s odorless and flavorless, but different ingredients and production methods lend discernible characteristics to different vodkas.

LVOV Vodka, for example, is made from potatoes, distilled four times, and then filtered four times through an activated carbon and candle process. The result has a mellow, slightly herbal, slightly sweet aroma with a touch of minerality and a creamy finish—a perfect foil for refreshing favorites like vodka tonics, the zesty LVOV Smash (recipe follows), and the classic vodka martini and all its delicious variations, like appletinis and chocotinis.

Store it in the freezer! Because home freezers don’t get cold enough to freeze spirits, many people like to stash their vodka on ice (BFFs, remember?) for ready-to-go refreshment value.

How do you pronounce LVOV? Impress your retailer and ask for “Luh-voff.” That’s how they say it in LVOV’s namesake Polish town.

Good news for gluten watchers. Vodkas made from fruits and vegetables are gluten-free, so people with grain sensitivities can indulge. Plus, 100 percent potato-based LVOV is not only gluten free, but it’s OU kosher certified, too.

LVOV Vodka recently received an excellent 92-point rating by Tasting Panel and offers tremendous quality for its price point (MSRP: $9.99 750 ML available gift boxed).

So, get ready to kick off summer with these spirited cocktails and more.

LVOV Smash

Turn heads with this spicy summer sipper.

Ingredients:

  • 2 ounces LVOV Vodka
  • 5 grapes
  • 1 slice serrano pepper
  • 1 sugar cube
  • Dash orange bitters
  • Garnish: serrano pepper and lime wedge

Directions:

  1. Muddle all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice.
  2. Shake well and pour everything into a cocktail glass.
  3. Garnish with remaining serrano pepper and lime wedge.

LVOV Sparkling Sea Breeze

This cool classic is a breeze to make.

Ingredients:

  • 1½ ounces LVOV Vodka
  • 1½ ounces cranberry juice
  • 1½ ounces grapefruit juice
  • 1½ cups ice cubes
  • 1½ ounces sparkling water
  • Garnish: 1 lime wedge

Directions:

  1. Fill a cocktail shaker with vodka, juices, and ice cubes. Cover and shake.
  2. Fill a glass with sparkling water. Strain vodka mixture into sparkling water and garnish with lime wedge.

LVOV Lemon Drop Martini

A sweet-and-sour treat may just become your signature cocktail.

Ingredients:

  • 1½ ounces LVOV Vodka
  • ¾ ounces lemon juice
  • ¼ ounces simple syrup
  • 1½ cup ice cubes
  • Garnish: Lemon twist

Directions:

  1. Fill a shaker with ice. Pour in vodka, lemon juice, and simple syrup and shake well.
  2. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with lemon peel.

Pasta a la Vodka

A garlicky vegetarian spin on an Italian favorite.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (35-ounce) can Italian plum tomatoes
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 8 garlic cloves, crushed
  • ¼ cup LVOV Vodka
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Crushed red pepper, to taste
  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • Chopped parsley, to taste
  • About ¾ cup Italian-style cheese, plus extra to taste

Directions:

  1. Process tomatoes and their liquid in a food processor until just finely chopped.
  2. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add crushed garlic and brown gently.
  3. Slowly add tomatoes and vodka to skillet and bring to a simmer. Add salt and crushed red pepper.
  4. Meanwhile, cook pasta al dente according to directions. Just before pasta is ready, add cream to the sauce. Drain and stir in the pasta.
  5. Add salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper to taste. Add chopped parsley and simmer, stirring, until sauce thickens and all the pasta is coated.
  6. Stir in grated cheese and serve, topping with extra cheese if desired.

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