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Gin vs Vodka Martinis: Which is Better?

The Martini is a timeless alcoholic drink firmly embedded in cocktail culture. It’s synonymous with sophistication but there’s debate about what spirit should be used to make it.

James Bond opts for a vodka Martini, shaken not stirred, while revellers in The Great Gatsby prefer a classic gin Martini, complete with olive garnish. 

As the world’s most-awarded gin*, we’ve got an obvious favourite. But if you’re not sure, read on as we compare gin vs vodka Martinis to see what’s similar about them, and what sets them apart.

What is a Martini?

The Martini is the most classic of cocktails. It’s sleek and simple yet effortlessly cool, containing just three ingredients: a spirit, vermouth and a garnish.

 

The origins of this cocktail are a bit hazy, but it’s largely believed to have emerged from a drink called the Martinez. The story goes that in the 1860s, a gold-digging prospector struck it rich near the town of Martinez and mosied on into a local bar to celebrate his find. He asked the bartender to mix him up something special and the resulting beverage was a combination of gin, vermouth, maraschino liqueur and orange bitters. Sounds pretty good, right?

 

Fast forward to the late 19th, or early 20th century and the Martini as we know it today emerges onto the scene. Gin with dry vermouth are paired together and become somewhat of a power duo. The Martini was incredibly popular during the Prohibition era in the USA. Why, we hear you ask?  Well, gin was easier to produce illegally than whisky, and its flavour could mask the taste of questionable homemade hooch.

 

The Martini didn’t fall from favour once the Prohibition was over though. Instead, many variations of the cocktail were created, some replacing gin with vodka and others including all sorts of additional flavours, giving rise to cocktails such as the Espresso Martini, Appletini and Vesper Martini.

 

To sum it up, the Martini has been the cocktail of choice for decades, evolving from gold rush celebrations to clandestine speakeasies and then onto trendy cocktail bars.

 

What’s the difference between vodka and gin?

Both gin and vodka are clear, colourless, distilled spirits. They are incredibly versatile, making them great as a base for a whole host of cocktails. However, while they share some similarities, they definitely have their own personalities.

Vodka is a neutral spirit, typically made from grains or potatoes, and is known for its clean taste. Gin, on the other hand, is a spirit infused with botanicals, most notably juniper berries, giving it a distinctive herbal flavour.

When it comes to gin vs vodka Martinis, this means that gin Martini cocktails tend to have more complex flavour profiles, making the most of the notes that piney juniper berries and aromatic botanicals deliver. In contrast, vodka Martini cocktails can be lighter and are the base for a ton of Martini variations.

Is gin stronger than vodka?

Gin and vodka are like the goldilocks of spirits – not too weak, not too strong, but just right. However, legally, they have to be a certain ABV (alcohol by volume) to earn their title.  

 

A gin must be at least 37.5% ABV and vodka’s minimum alcohol content is not far behind, at 35%. Usually, though both gin and vodka tend to be around the 40% mark. Of course, gins and vodkas can be stronger than this, but it depends on the brand and expression.

Which Martini is stronger: vodka or gin?

Vodka and gin Martinis pretty much neck and neck in terms of strength since both are typically mixed in the same proportions. So when deciding whether to order a gin Martini or a vodka Martini, it’s less about which spirit is flexing more muscle and more about what flavours take your fancy.

 

If you want to take things up a notch you can order your Martini ‘dry’ or ‘bone dry’. These variations use less vermouth, amping up the ratio of gin or vodka, giving you a stronger sip.

Is a dirty Martini always made with gin?

A dirty Martini is like the rebellious family member of the classic Martini. It provides a savoury twist by adding a small amount of olive brine to the drink. It’s known as ‘dirty’ because the brine gives the Martini a cloudy appearance.

 

Gin is traditionally used in a dirty Martini; however, vodka can be used instead. It does create a slightly different taste than gin as vodka’s neutral flavour makes the olive brine more punchy.

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How Do you make a gin martini?

To make a Beefeater gin Martini you’ll need 50 ml of Beefeater London Dry Gin, 5 ml of dry vermouth, ice, an orange twist to garnish and a Martini glass to serve.

  1. Chill all your ingredients (and your glass) beforehand for at least ten minutes.
  2. Combine your gin, vermouth, and ice, stirring gently to dilute the drink until it reaches the desired taste.
  3. Strain into your chilled Martini glass.
  4. Garnish with a small orange twist and enjoy!

What are the best garnishes for a Martini?

Classic garnishes for a Martini are olives or a twist of citrus peel. However, you can also get creative with garnishes by trying:

  • Pickled onions: Tangy, savoury and a little unexpected – these won’t make you cry but are guaranteed to add a pop of flavour
  • Jalapeño-stuffed olives: Spice things up with a little chilli heat
  • A sprig of thyme: Add earthiness and aromas that tie perfectly with gin botanicals
  •  Sage leaves: Elevate your Martini with subtle herbal notes
  • Coffee beans: Perfect as a pick-me-up for Espresso Martinis 
  • Gherkins: Sweet yet sharp, these will add a surprising yet satisfying twist to your cocktail

Which gin Martini variations should I try?

With the rise of flavoured gins and mixologists becoming more and more experimental, there are so many different gin Martinis ready and waiting for you to enjoy.

 

A Grapefruit Martini, for example, is bursting with refreshing citrus flavour and is tart yet sweet. Then there’s the Blood Orange Martini which balances bitterness with botanicals, a great option for festive get-togethers.

 

If you’re feeling adventurous, try an Orange Gin Espresso Martini based on the much-loved coffee cocktail but elevated with a fruity twist. Or branch out to the cousin of the Martini with a Gibson cocktail. Our Red & White Gibson is an advanced recipe that combines Beefeater Crown Jewel with cream vermouth and fermented beetroot for a deliciously sour serve.  

 

Check out our guide to the top Martini variations.

So, which is better – a gin or vodka Martini?

In the gin vs vodka Martini showdown, it comes down to personal preference. Gin Martinis have that distinct botanical, herbaceous flavour, while vodka Martinis are cleaner and more neutral. We know which one we’d choose every time but try both and see which one tickles your taste buds!

 

 

 

 

To continue expanding your gin cocktail knowledge, check out our ultimate gin garnish guide or invite friends around for a party and have fun making gin cocktails at home. 

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