Once upon a time, I picked a bottom shelf vodka that I hadn’t heard of: Don Cossack 100. This 100 proof vodka was a surprised at the quality for the dollar. I chalked it up to the higher proof, which usually improves the vodka. So, I decided to try the regular 80 proof Don Cossack.
Don Cossack is neutral in flavor, but burns a good bit on the way down. In the mouth, I noticed a slight moisture removal that is common in lower shelf vodkas, and is very disconcerting. A chaser is a must.
The Mixed Drink
I mixed Don Cossack at 2 parts orange juice to 1 part vodka. The drink wasn’t too bad. There are notable bitter undertones, but it’s easy to ignore. Don Cossack is surprisingly good mixing vodka for a bottom shelf, but it’s not impressive on merit alone.
I talked Erin in to trying Don Cossack. She made bad faces after the shot. She complained that it had an unbearable burn from start to end and it sucks all the moisture out of your mouth, leaving a bitter aftertaste. While she thought the shot was “terrible,” she thought the same orange juice mix I had was “not terrible.” She noted, though, that she could taste the orange juice and vodka separately despite the cocktail being well mixed.
After having the 80 proof Don Cossack, I’m certain the extra 10% alcohol by volume makes all the difference. Don Cossack is still pretty high on my list of bottom shelf vodkas, but it is easily outranked by Don Cossack 100.