Two of the most popular liquors these days are gin and vodka. Each one has its own unique characteristics, so what are the main differences of gin versus vodka? Read on for more information about both, as well as some delicious cocktail ideas that you can make using these fine liquors.

How Is Gin Different From Vodka?

Gin Versus Vodka: The Differences

The essential difference between these two drinks comes down to three categories: the way that each is made, the difference in the taste between the two, and the way that you serve each one. Here are some more details about these differences:

Creation Process

The first thing that distinguishes gin from vodka is the process used in creating both drinks. Gin is distilled using a mixture of malt and grain, followed by mixing that combination with juniper flavors to give the drink its signature flavor. This also gives gin its name; the French word for juniper berries is genievre, which was shortened to gin when the drink caught on in the English-speaking world.

Vodka takes its name from Voda, the Russian word for water because of its clear appearance and flavorless quality. It can be distilled from a variety of different starch-rich or sugar-rich plant materials, although most modern vodka is derived from various grains. The straight liquor taste with no additional flavors that the distillation process creates makes vodka perfect for mixing with more flavorful drinks.

Difference in Taste

The difference in flavor is one of the key differences between gin and vodka. Gin is known for its characteristic botanical flavor that it derives from the eight different herbs used in the distilling process. The predominant flavor that gin lovers everywhere know and love is the flavor from the juniper berries, giving the distinctive personality that gin aficionados admire so much.

Being a water-based spirit, vodka is known for its neutral taste. With nothing between the drinker and the smooth flavor of the drink, vodka makes the perfect base to build any cocktail from. The neutral flavor allows the taste of the other ingredients mixed into the cocktail to shine through.

How They’re Served

Another key difference between these two types of liquor comes into play when it’s time to pour a drink. On the one hand, vodka is best served chilled, so put your bottle on ice or in the cooler for a time before you want to have a drink. The extreme cold brings out a vicious quality in vodka, giving it the perfect taste that it’s known for.

Gin, on the other hand, is best served either slightly chilled or not chilled at all. The aromatic notes and flavors that gin is known for shine through best when enjoyed at a slightly higher temperature compared to vodka. The botanical flavors of gin also lend themselves to certain cocktails better than the pure flavor of vodka might, giving you different options for each drink when it comes to mixing cocktails.

What Is Gin?

Gin is a distilled alcoholic drink that takes its most noticeable flavor from the juniper berries used in its creation process. This drink has its roots in 17th-century Europe, where it was originally marketed as a medicinal tonic. The drink exploded in popularity in the Netherlands following curtails on imported French brandy, growing in renown ever since to become one of the most popular drinks of today’s world.

The different ways to produce gin and the variety of herbal ingredients used in the distilling process have created a number of distinct styles of gin to enjoy. Different combinations of botanical flavors, spices, or fruit notes can be used to give each bottle of gin a unique character that is unlike anything else you’ve experienced.

What Is Vodka?

The history of vodka stretches back to the Middle Ages, and scholars debate the exact nature of its origins. Originally used as a medicine, vodka used to be distilled with a far lower alcohol content than modern vodka tends to have: as low as 14%. The vodka of these times also had a different color, flavor, and odor compared to the vodka we know today.

Today, vodka in the United States is brewed with a minimum of 40% alcohol by volume. Modern vodka comes in a variety of different flavors, although the original, flavorless brew is still popular, as well. Vodka is also used as an ingredient in cooking to lend its unique flavor to several dishes, with vodka sauce and pasta being one of the most common vodka-based dishes.

Gin Cocktail Ideas

Looking for the best way to enjoy gin? Try out these classic cocktails to get started. Each one brings out the unique botanical flavor of gin to perfection.

Classic Martini

There are few drinks more iconic than a martini. While other drinks made in a martini glass may be called a martini, real drink connoisseurs know that a classic martini is made using gin as the primary ingredient. While other martini drinks have followed in this cocktail’s footsteps, the signature flavor of the classic martini is still popular among many different drinkers.

One beauty of the classic martini is how simple it is. The two ingredients used are gin and dry vermouth, poured with perfect proportions. The mixture is then either shaken or stirred depending on the preferences of the drinker. This basic mix also serves as the base for a variety of different fruit-based martinis.

Gin and Tonic

Another reliable, two-ingredient cocktail that uses gin as the primary ingredient is the gin and tonic. Just like the name suggests, this cocktail is a simple mixture of your favorite gin with tonic water. The addition of a lime wedge, although not entirely necessary, complements the drink to perfection.

The beautiful simplicity of this popular concoction also makes it a great base for a variety of other gin-based drinks. However, a classic gin and tonic by itself is already perfect for anybody looking for a dry drink or who is tired of all the sugar and sweeteners common in so many modern cocktails.

Aviation Cocktail

Once practically impossible to obtain, the modern revival of interest in unique cocktails has brought the aviation cocktail back into the spotlight. The key ingredient in this mixture is crème de violette, which was once exceedingly rare but is now much simpler to get your hands on.

Along with the unique flavor of violet and a gin base, this drink also incorporates maraschino and fresh lemon. The combination of these four flavors makes a unique mix that is popular among many cocktail connoisseurs.

Essential Vodka Drinks

Vodka makes a perfect base for a cocktail because of how well the neutral flavor works with the flavors of other ingredients added to the mix. Here are some great cocktails that you can use vodka to make, each one of them with its own unique characteristics.


Vodka makes an ideal base for light fruit flavors to shine through. That’s what makes the cosmopolitan, otherwise known as the cosmo, such a popular drink. The sweet flavor and the signature pink color make this drink as fun to look at as it is to taste.

The great flavors of this drink come from a simple combination of ingredients. Vodka serves as the base, giving this drink its potency. Then add a mix of cranberry and lime juices to give the fruity notes that this drink is known for. Last, a splash of orange liqueur finishes off the drink to perfection, creating the unique taste and look that cosmo drinkers love.

Black Russian

While sweet, fruity flavors go perfectly when served with a vodka base, there are plenty of other types of flavors that work well in vodka cocktails. Those looking for a hearty, slightly bitter drink that packs an instantly recognizable flavor should give the black Russian a try.

This simple drink takes just minutes to mix up and involves only two simple ingredients. Vodka adds potency to every sip, while coffee liqueur is used to give the cocktail its characteristic flavor. For an additional garnish, finish things off by putting a cherry on top.


If you want a cocktail that is fit for anything from a brunch cruise to your local happy hour, look no further than the screwdriver. Made simply by mixing orange juice and vodka, this fruity cocktail is a great treat for any time of the day. For the best results, use fresh-squeezed orange juice for your mixture, although this isn’t strictly required.

Our authentic old-fashioned distillery serves you both gin and vodka at their very best. Come enjoy a drink with us next time you’re looking to go out and celebrate. Visit Town’s End Stillhouse and Grill today!

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