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Which drink is more popular -- vodka or gin martini?

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There is no cocktail more sophisticated than a martini right? It’s so sophisticated, it has its own glass to accompany it. And simple too, right? I mean its’ just a martini there’s only so many ways to turn out a martini, right? Wrong. It turns out there are as many twists and turns in martini making as there are in Blackadder’s twisty-turny thing.

But let’s take the most divisive element first; vodka or gin?

If there is a “correct” method, then it’s a stirred gin martini, and most mixologists define a martini as a stirred cocktail made from gin and dry vermouth.

Traditionalists however, get really sniffy at the mere idea of using vodka, as strictly speaking, all-spirits drinks should only be stirred, the only drinks which need to be shaken are contain liqueurs, citrus, thick syrup, egg whites, or dairy.

Bond doesn’t help of course, in Ian Fleming’s, Casino Royale, James Bond created the Vesper a concoction made of both gin and vodka, and to make matter’s worse, he uttered the immortal line; “shaken not stirred”, and the rest is muddied history.

In reality, the only difference between gin and vodka, is a different flavour profile. Traditionalists may bang-on, and I mean seriously bang-on about the almost religious strict usage of gin, but tradition is quite often invented, take clan tartan as an example, turns out two Lancashire cotton mill owns dreamt that one up in the 19th century as a marketing exercise! And the actual origins of a martini are shrouded in mystery, it may come from the Martinez, it simply be another merchandising opportunity, stemming from the Italian vermouth, ‘Martini & Rosso’ launched in 1863, where customers might ask for a ‘martini and gin’, later shortened to a ‘Martini’.

In the end, tradition matters less than progress, at the end of the day, you're drinking it, so take it whichever way you choose, shake it if you like or stir it if you don’t put vodka in it or gin if that’s your preferred profile, take it drier by having less vermouth and top it with your preference in garnish, an olive or some citrus peel, is a good start. Just make sure that when you put it all together it’s your martini and if someone else doesn’t like…they can make their own.

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