The U.S. standards of identity define vodka as an odorless, colorless, tasteless neutral spirit — which doesn’t do much in the way of distinctiveness for the 300-plus brands of vodka out there. Some canny marketers say their vodka is filtered through diamonds, others that it’s made in a kettle like the one used by the czars of Russia. And, of course, there’s the ploy of flavorings, from citrus to chili peppers.
But then there are those that stand out from the pack, drawing on presentation and sex appeal, wrapped in a package that’s art in and of itself. Three that are receiving raves for their good looks:
  • Danzka Vodka Also available in grapefruit and citrus flavors, this Denmark vodka comes in a savvy proprietary aluminum bottle that chills 50 minutes faster than vodka in a glass bottle, and retains the cold 50 minutes longer — which not only saves time, but is really the best way to drink vodka.
  • Wyborowa Single Estate A new, superpremium, rye-based vodka that’s made in the Polish village of Turew, its real draw is the bottle, designed by architect Frank Gehry. With a large glass stopper at the top and a bottle that seems to twist in space, it’s reminiscent of a dancing skyscraper.
  • Shakers “Rose,” “Rye,” and “Original” Drawing on an image of upscale elegance, the Rose and Rye flavors just won double gold medals at the 2004 San Francisco World Spirits Competition for their striking visual appeal — frosted-glass bottles shaped like a 1930s cocktail shaker, complete with art-deco foil labels and penguin icons.
    — JOHN MARIANI