Smirnoff is a ubiquitous name in the vodka world. This isn’t just because of huge ad campaigns, but because Smirnoff (the brand) has product available in so many different flavors and proofs. The vodka is in virtually every bar in the US (at least every one I’ve been to). Smirnoff is also pretty affordable.
In the past, Blue Label Smirnoff was my beverage of choice because the bang for the buck is undeniable. I still regard Smirnoff Red Label as my ultimate bottom shelf for mixers. That is, I won’t drink anything (except for a review) of lesser quality than Smirnoff in a mixed drink.
For the record, the recipe comes from Russia (hence the country designation above), but, according to the bottle, it’s made in the United States. I’m not sure what to make of that in regard to this review (since I am a stickler for details), but those seem to be the fact. Smirnoff Red Label is also known as Smirnoff No. 21. I chose to call it by Red Label, as I feel that is more common nomenclature.
The shot opens with no clear flavors, bitter or otherwise. As I let my tongue marinate in the shot, I notice the feeling of having the moisture sucked from my mouth. This is typical of some cheaper vodkas (e.g. Skol or Aristocrat), though Smirnoff is nowhere near as bad. Upon swallowing, the burn is obvious and the bitter flavors come out in spades. This vodka requires a chaser. Diet Mountain Dew is my favorite chaser, but it isn’t doing a great job of taking out the flavors.
The Mixed Drink
For Smirnoff, the mixer is Passion Fruit juice. The mix is bitter. In a club or bar, given the lower price compared to high quality vodkas, I certainly feel like Smirnoff would suffice. However, drinking in the comfort of my home or in a calm environment where I can reflect on the drink, Smirnoff is barely acceptable. It isn’t a fun vodka to drink, but it would get by in a pinch.
Smirnoff is a great bottom shelf vodka, but doesn’t make the cut when it comes to casual drinking. If you’re in a club and you don’t want to shell out for Stoli, Smirnoff is your man. Smirnoff Red Label still maintains my low-as-I’ll-go rank.