In the face of the ongoing boutique-vodka boom, Russian distillers are responding with homegrown high-end offerings. (Legend has it Russian vodka was first distilled as early as 1430, in a monastery laboratory by an imprisoned monk hoping to lull his captors to sleep.) Join the revolution like a purist and drink your vodka ice-cold and neat, or make this traditional lemon-infused concoction from New York’s Russian Samovar restaurant.


1. Place 10 quartered lemons in a glass jar large enough to also hold two liters of vodka.
2. Top lemons with two cups of brown sugar. Cover and refrigerate for two weeks.
3. Wipe excess sugar off the lemons and add two liters of vodka; cover.
4. Store in a cool, dry place, approximately 65 degrees, for two more weeks.
5. Strain vodka through cheesecloth into a clean glass jar.