Vodka onion shots, delicious and perfect for parties

In Mother Russia, you do not chase vodka shots…vodka shots chase you. In America, the majority of us will not down shots of snake-infused whiskey or fermented baby mouse wine (both found here) ala Bourdain or Zimmern. Most of us cannot even take a shot of tequila without lime or vodka without an immediate follow-up sip of beer or orange juice. We are a culture that requires chasers after hard shots. For other countries, that is a no-no. This is the story of a friend, so if it is true is up to interpretation, of how he came to learn about one of the greatest drinking/shots experiences ever – a shot of vodka followed immediately by sniffing a raw onion – the vodka onion shot.

History of the vodka onion shot

A friend was working for a project in Moscow. We all know that Russians take much pride in their vodka and drink it like water, which is their cross to bear. It is incredible. One afternoon my buddy was at a bar and ordered a shot of vodka. Just another typical afternoon. He throws back the warm shot of vodka, but was unlucky to have selected one not of best of quality. The harsh drink came back to bite him and immediately yelled out to the bartender requesting some orange juice to cleanse his stinging palate.

Across the bar, a shadowy figure was watching this transgression. He lurks out from the corner and approaches my friend. An intimidating man given his height and pirate eye patch, he looks at my friend in disgust and says, “No…in Russia you do not use this to chase. If you must chase…you use this.” As he finishes his sentence, the sketchy bar patron reaches over the barcounter to grab a raw onion that was halved. “If you must chase, you do this …” and immediately sniffs the heck out of the raw onion – deep inhales. My friend, partially confused and partially intrigued, takes the Onion Hermes advice. He orders the same shot of vodka and then without hesitation deeply smells and sniffs the raw onion. Hello world, it was life-changing.

vodkas from brickfrenzy's flickr

vodkas from brickfrenzy's flickr

The vodka onion shot, delicious & perfect for parties

As weird and off-putting it may sound, this is one resounding shot combination. Onions have an inherit sweetness to them, especially if they are the Spanish Yellow or Red onion varieties. It really helps to take the edges off a shot of vodka. Not only does the onion sniffing help you forget about the vodka (esp if is a cheaper, more harsh type), the vodka taste and onion flavors/smells pair magically together. It is truly a delicious shot. Vodka and onions are just meant to go together, and this shot proves it. As further validation of this combination, some bartenders server pickled onions or baby onions in martinis. One step further, think of penne alla vodka, which is mostly tomato sauce, cream, vodka, and lots of onions.

Typically, you deeply sniff and inhale the halved onion. True lovers of this shot can take it other levels, such as biting into the raw onion after the shot or actually pouring the vodka shot into the onion and using it as a shot glass/bowl.

But the real genius behind the vodka onion shot is not the misperceived intensity, the phenomenal taste/enjoyment, or the many variations drunk people can devise, but how amazing of a party gimmick it is. The vodka onion shot can take any party to stratosphere heights. Exposing people and getting them to believe and rally behind the shots makes for great party fun (and a liquored up party group). Vodka onion shots until we die.

raw red onions halved from pixie85's flickr

raw red onions halved from pixie85's flickr

7 comments… add one
  • Tamann Sep 17, 2017

    onion sounds good , but why in gauss name would anyone throw hot sauce in their own eye? That’s for the jerk who’s n
    had too many onion shots and won’t leave your lady alone !

  • Trevor Feb 25, 2016

    So, i know what many variants im trying this weekend.

  • Eric Borzino Jun 14, 2011

    Paul Baz – what is going on man? Thanks for checking out the blog. And I’ve noticed you’re quite the cook based on your FB posts. I appreciate the the black bread sniffing tip. Sounds like a sniffing buffet starring black bread, raw onions, and others may make for a fun vodka shooting party.

  • Paul Jun 14, 2011

    Hey Borzino – its baz from high school. us russians also use black bread ( I am not sure what it really relates to. But when the true russians out in the fields who made their own vodka kept in gasoline tanks are drinking, its with eating cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, and some type of salami, and black bread. you take a shot and sniff the black bread which is a strong deep smell that immediately takes the mind off of the vodka.


  • The Bear Jew Jun 7, 2011

    you forgot about squirting tabasco sauce into your eye afterwards as well!

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