Cocktails come and go, but some cocktails withstand the test of time. The martini is an example of such a cocktail, being beloved for nearly 140 years. If you’re new to the cocktail scene, you’re in the right place. Today, we are answering some of the most frequently asked cocktail-related questions, including whether the vodka or gin martini came first and what the best gin for cocktails is.
The gin martini came first. However, both liquors can be used to make a great martini. If you’re wondering whether gin or vodka makes a better martini, you’ll need to experiment and find out for yourself. There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to cocktail preferences. If you’re a fan of modern flavors, you’ll probably prefer the smoothness of vodka. If you’re searching for an authentic classic beverage, you will need to go with gin.
Vodka and gin are pretty similar in that they both undergo distillation. They are also similar in that they both pair very well with vermouth, making each a decent choice if you want to make a martini. One of the major differences between vodka and gin is that the former is flavorless other than the liquor itself, while the latter is definitely herbal.
New Yorkers insist that the martini was first invented in 1911 by a Knickerbocker Hotel bartender for John B. Rockefeller, America’s first billionaire. However, most people believe the drink was invented in the 1880s and first published in The Modern Bartender in 1884. If a martini recipe was published prior to 1884, it has not yet come to light. For now, it is safe to say that the cocktail has been around for over 130 years.
The vodka martini was first pushed for in the 1950s by Smirnoff. The aggressive marketing campaign focused on the odorless, colorless nature of vodka. It claimed that nobody really liked the taste of gin, and it was fairly successful.
A wet martini is a martini that contains less gin than vermouth. In the 1800s, ratios of gin to vermouth varied significantly. In cases of high-quality gin, ratios could be as large as 8:1. However, most recipes call for two portions of gin for every portion of vermouth.
The higher proportion of vermouth relative to gin was fairly common due to the low quality of gin available in the past. If you want to make a wet martini yourself, you’ll need 2 ounces of vermouth per ounce of gin. However, you are more than welcome to add top-shelf gin to your cocktail even if it is mostly vermouth.
The most famous written record of the dry martini dates back to 1904 in Applegreen’s Bar Book. In it is a recipe aptly named “Martini Cocktail, Dry.” However, the first dry martini can be traced back to 1896.
In Bar Book, it can be found below a recipe for “Martini Cocktail,” a recipe calling for two dashes of orange bitters, a dash of syrup, half of a jigger of Tom gin, half of a jigger of Italian vermouth, a piece of a lemon peel, and ice strained into a cocktail glass. The dry martini cocktail recipe contains only the instructions “Same as above except to omit the syrup.”
Another notable cocktail from this book is a recipe called “Crisp Cocktail (Specialty Kinsley’s)”. This recipe is similar to a dry martini because it calls for dry Plymouth gin and dry French vermouth. However, it doesn’t quite qualify due to the 1:1 ratio of gin to vermouth. Here’s the recipe in case you’re interested in trying it out for yourself:
On the subject of classic gin cocktails, what is the best gin for cocktails is a commonly asked question. Like the best liquor for martinis, the best gin to make cocktails with depends on your personal preference. However, we can give you some food for thought to consider. You may want to pick up small bottles from the following to experiment with making martinis:
If you want to sip on a truly classic cocktail that will transport you back to the early 1900s, you need to make a Crisp Cocktail with Plymouth gin. This famous gin has been beloved for hundreds of years. Black Friars Distillery was the first to distill this liquor in 1793, and it is still in operation today. What makes this gin great for martinis is the earthy flavor it gets from the high concentration of root ingredients.
Tanqueray’s history is less rich than Plymouth’s, but Tanqueray is still a solid choice if you want to make a martini. It was first distilled by Charles Tanqueray in 1830. Today, it is one of the best gins in the world if you take a lot of stock in awards. If you don’t, that’s okay. We strongly recommend that you buy a bottle and form your on opinion of the gin.
Hendricks is one of the best-known brands of gin, and for good reason. Produced since 1999 at Scotland’s Girvan distillery, this premium liquor contains 13 botanicals, including beautifully blended cucumber and rose. In addition to making a great martini, this surprisingly refreshing liquor is great for making other classic cocktails, like a Gin and Tonic.
When trying to find the best gin to make a martini with, you may want to experiment with the Gin and Tonic. This two-ingredient cocktail calls for gin and tonic water, letting the flavor of the gin come through. Making a Gin and Tonic is simple. The first step is to use ice to fill a highball glass. Once the glass is full of ice, add two ounces of your gin of choice. Then, add four ounces of tonic water and stir gently. Finish with a seasonal garnish or lime wheel.
Sipsmith is relatively new to the liquor scene, but the quality is outstanding. Established in 2009, Sipsmith quickly established its value in the market by providing a rich, smooth gin that works very well as the basis of numerous gin cocktails. While juniper is the main note you’ll get when you taste this gin, you’ll also get pretty strong lemon and orange aromas.
The modern martini requires just four essential ingredients. To make this new take on a classic cocktail, you’ll first need to stir three ounces of gin and an ounce of Dolin Blanc Vermouth De Chambrey in a mixing glass mostly filled with ice. Then, you’ll need to strain the cocktail into a chilled glass. Finally, you’ll need to garnish with three olives pierced by a cocktail pick.
While Smirnoff made a massive push to change public taste in favor of vodka martinis in the 1950s, some cocktails in this time were still made with gin. This 1950s-inspired recipe calls for 2.5 ounces of yellow gin and half of an ounce of Noilly Prat Vermouth. To make this cocktail, you’ll need a large bar glass filled mostly with large, unbroken ice cubes. Stir your gin and vermouth into the glass for roughly 30 seconds, pour into a chilled glass, and garnish with a lemon twist.
A black fig martini is a bit different than what most people consider to be a martini. When most people think of a martini, they think of gin or vodka, vermouth, and an olive garnish. The black fig martini is different in that it only calls for two types of vodka and a garnish.
To make this cocktail, you’ll need to shake 1.5 ounces of vodka and 1.5 ounces of black fig vodka with ice, and strain it into a martini glass. This recipe, like most martini recipes, does not call for a chilled glass. Once you’re done straining your beverage into your favorite martini glass, you just need to garnish with a lemon wedge or two blue cheese olives.
The martini is a classic cocktail that has been around for almost 150 years. It started off as a gin cocktail, but by the 1950s, it evolved into a vodka cocktail. Regardless of whether you think a martini should be made of gin or vodka, make us your one-stop shop. Plan a trip to Town’s End Distillery & Stillhouse, and we’ll help you pick out the best liquor for your favorite classic cocktail recipe or wherever your imagination and palate want to take you.