the eagerly-awaited verdict.

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.


19 thoughts on “the eagerly-awaited verdict.

  1. cybrus says:

    Completely agree! Which gin did you use?

    If you haven’t yet tried Hendricks gin, I’d highly recommend it.

  2. LL says:

    Since you have the gin, try a Tom Collins.

  3. Jeff says:

    Can’t drink much anymore (reflux: too much booze = too much discomfort). When I do drink I want the best taste for me. After some experimenting, akin to working up a good load for a new firearm, I’ve found some drinks worth it for my palette. For a martini that means M&R extra dry vermouth, Bombay Saphirre gin and ice frozen from distilled water. Coat the ice with vermouth, discard the extra vermouth, add gin and stir gently. Pour into a crystal martini glass (chilled), NO GARNISH, and enjoy. The martini should have a limpid clarity highlighted by the other lights in the room. (How’s that for ambience?)


  4. aczarnowski says:

    Agreed; gin in the classic martini. As you say, vodka doesn’t bring anything to the table so what’s the point?

    However, I prefer dirty vodka martinis over the gin classics when there is a choice. While I understand this is not “a martini,” nobody from the snobbish gin side of the house can tell me what to call the vodka/vermouth/brine concoction so I will continue to upset them and be OK with that.

    • aczarnowski says:

      Forgot to add, stirred is correct. Bond be damned. Clear concoctions should stay clear when served.

  5. Jeff says:

    What do you use for a garnish? I far prefer the lemon twist. I hate when the last sip tastes like seawater.

    Also, try picking up a bottle of orange bitters and putting a few dashes in. It adds a little extra brightness to the flavor.

  6. dagamroe says:

    no garnish, and when you really want to get drunk quick, take two parts gin(beef eaters preferred) 1 part vodka shake with ice, drink fast!

  7. Jeff says:


    Thanks for mentioning Hendricks gin. Just tried some and it is unique and delicious! I won’t use it for matinis but it will get added to my list of straight “sippin” drinks along with Milagro Resposada tequila, Lagavulin single malt scotch and Old Crow bourbon. (My stomach can’t tolerate the high octane bourbons like Makers Mark.)

    Considering that I can deal with only a half ounce at a time, sipped very slowly, that bottle of Hendricks is probably a ten year supply. My wife says that makes me a cheap date. 🙂


    • cybrus says:

      Ha! Love it!

      I agree with Hendricks being a good sipping gin. And that’s how I usually drink it as well!

      I’ll have to check out that tequilla and I like your taste in scotch!

  8. Zane says:

    Gin FTW. Preach that liquor gospel!

    As far as I can tell (at least among the younger contingent, I am 25) gin is underused and under appreciated. People my age seem more interested in alcohol content than flavor and feel.


    Cosmopolitans are delicious. If a guy can’t admit he likes something because that thing is “girly,” he should have HIS man-card revoked.

  9. Matthew Carberry says:

    Try Hendricks, tonic and a fresh cucumber slice instead of lime.

    Very clean, crisp flavor.

    • MarkHB says:

      I’m not sure the Gin and Tonic counts as a cocktail, as it has but one alcoholic component. That said, I could really go for one right now. In a highball. With a couple of cubes of ice.


      No. School Night.

  10. Borepatch says:

    My first thought when I saw this was ZOMG, Marko’s doing the booze version of .30-06 vs. .308 …

    You have a right polite corral of commenters here. And I’ve long thought that a Real Man wasn’t afraid of a little gin. Or especially, vermouth.

  11. Tim says:

    Citadelle (a french gin) is magically delicious.

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