Why are gin and vodka considered interchangeable?

It seems like a lot of cocktails have the phrase “gin or vodka” in their recipes. But it doesn’t seem like vodka is listed as a substitute for other hard alcohols like whiskey. Vodka is basically flavorless whereas gin has a very strong distinctive taste, as though one decided to ferment pine needles.

IIRC, gin is, in essence, juniper infused vodka (juniper being the flower that gives it that Christmassy pine tree goodness!).

I don’t know any drinks where they are interchangeable, save martinis. But nevertheless, I think they are related flavour wise, even with the overpowering juniper.

Vodka can sometimes be subbed in for gin or rum because it’s basically a neutral flavor, and generally it can be used in drinks where its being used for its alcohol punch, not as a key flavoring itself.

It doesn’t work for whiskey drinks because those are deinks that try to enhance the taste of the whiskey itself, not just mask it with fruit juice and liqueurs.

If a cocktail contains anything other than gin and vermouth, it is not a martini.

I HAVE SPOKEN!!! :wink:

There is such a thing as a vodka martini (why, I don’t know) and a vodka & tonic (again, why?) and a vodka Collins.

Interestingly, the gin martini purism came out in force only after the fad for various sweet and novel “tinis” - notwithstanding that the vodkatini (aka kangaroo) actually has less flavor additive than the classic gin drink.

I would assume too it’s cuz Gin is way more potent as an alcohol than vodka is, so if you want to get drunk more you can put in gin, and if you want to take it a bit more easy…you have wodka

Huh? Not by much… most gins are 80-90 proof and most vodkas are 80 proof.

Vodka martinis, to me, occupy an annoying middle ground. It’s such a mild drink, I feel like you’d be better served by simply having chilled neat vodka – that way the flavor of the vodka is actually present and not muddied by the dash of vermouth and brine. A gin martini, on the other hand, is itself a complex, flavorful, interesting drink.

As for the OP – it’s because vodka can always be subbed for gin to make a milder cocktail. The reverse isn’t ALWAYS true, but they’re fairly interchangeable. The drink won’t taste THE SAME, but it’s usually going to be okay either way. On the other hand, sub vodka into, say, a manhatten…yech.

I prefer gin on the rocks, myself, but it has to be a premium gin.

Pink gin. Gin with a dash of bitters.

The wife prefers vodka martinis. We keep gin around for the rare occasions I really feel like a Salty Dog.

Cause people like them?

As an insecure male, I often fall back on the maxim “What would Bond do?” By this measure–and what other measure really matters?–your proclamation is baseless.

That would actually be more like the Greek wine retsina. As bad as gin tastes, retsina is much worse.

I have made disparaging noises and loudly stated that a martini is a recipe, not a serving style. I do allow chilled vodka with a touch of vermouth to be called a “vodka martini,” which differentiates it from a real martini. But if you have to start making more specifications (“A vodka martini on the rocks with a twist, please”) then you start transgressing, and I may have to start drinking a cocktail that Warren Ellis introduced me to.

(The Pint of Whiskey: take a pint glass. Fill with whiskey. Drink. Slap the snot out of anyone who orders a ‘trendy’ drink within your earshot.)

My drink of choice is a gimlet. I’ve been drinking them for 50 years. In recent years I noticed that they didn’t have the sparkle they used to have and I just thought I was losing my tastebuds as I got older. Then a few months ago I noticed the bartender making my gimlet with vodka. When I asked him why he was using vodka, he said “What else would I use?” It was then that I learned that the times have changed and that if I wanted my traditional gimlet I would have to carefully specify a “gin gimlet”. A gin gimlet and a vodka gimlet do not taste anything like each other.

Why, that’s just preposterous! :wink:

Yes. Martinis were traditionally made with gin. There was a vodka martini for those who didn’t like the taste of gin. However, in the last 20 years or so, vodka martinis have become more popular, so now you have to specify gin.

It’s a typical American process: create something that tastes good, then find ways to reduce the amount of flavor in it to make it more popular. The popularity of vodka is due to the fact it has very little flavor (other than alcohol). More flavorful liquors have gone out of fashion – if you look at liquor ads in the 1930s, the most popular liquor was rye, which few liquor stores bother to stock any more. Gin may be heading in that direction, alas (a good gin and tonic is one of the best drinks around).

Well, if you’re going to drink based upon a fictional character, you’ll be drinking gin, vermouth plus some vodka.

I am just an annoying martini purist, i.e., gin, vermouth and either olives or a lemon peel is what I consider to be a martini. I hate that the word martini is morphing into meaning “cocktail.”

One of my favorite cocktails is a Sidecar. I ordered one at a bar, and when they were unfamiliar with it, I listed out the ingredients (brandy, cointreau and lemon juice). The server replied, “Oh, you want a ‘brandy margarita’.”

Perhaps I need to drink single malts exclusively, and avoid all this chaos.

They are not interchangeable. A “recipe” that calls for one of two or more liquors is not a singular drink recipe, but a method for making two or more distinct drinks. For example,

can be made with bourbon, gin, rum, vodka or whiskey as the liquor–but the results are not variations of the “same” drink. They are the same technique (a simple form of “swizzle”) applied to different liquors, and yielding very different drinks.

Martini is or used to be a singular drink, like Manhattan, not a technique or serving style, like swizzles and rickeys.

There is no need for purism before impurities have been invented, or popularized. There’s no “whiskey Manhattan purism” because, to my knowledge, nobody is calling Manhattan-like drinks made with something other than whiskey “Manhattans.”

Oh dear.

Aside from the fact that Margarita, too, used to be understood as a singular drink (made with tequila, of course), there’s also the fact that substituting brandy for tequila in a Margarita recipe does not produce a Sidecar.

Did they give it to you with a salt rim?