In the interest of Science!, I did a taste experiment and had two martinis back-to-back last night. The first one was a vodka martini, the second a gin martini. I am now ready to render a verdict.
The winner is…the gin martini.
The vodka version is milder and “easier”, a bit more mellow and smooth, but because the vodka has no flavor of its own, it tastes mostly like vermouth. Also, most of the alcohol bite is missing from the drink, which may be a good thing for those who don’t like their alcohol to taste like alcohol.
The gin martini is more complex and nuanced, because the gin’s flavor combines with that of the vermouth to create something new, which is sort of the point of a cocktail. While I personally don’t care much for gin, I can very much tolerate it in a martini because of the vermouth note. The gin martini wins out over the vodka version because it does what a cocktail is supposed to do: constitute something that’s more than just the sum of its ingredients. It is, therefore, the superior cocktail.
This court is adjourned.