Why are gin and vodka considered interchangeable?

Yep. The gimlet became my summer drink a couple years ago. I’m not much of a cocktail drinker, but I felt I need something other than just a gin & tonic or beer to go with the warm weather. I’ve always thought of a generic gimlet as gin & Rose’s (although I like a mix of Rose’s and fresh lime juice or just fresh lime juice with some simple syrup). However, I found that most bartenders would pour a vodka gimlet without further specification. The better bartenders would actually ask, gin or vodka. It just feels odd to me to order a “gin gimlet” in the same way it would be odd to order a “vodka screwdriver.”

Anyhow, vodka and gin are not interchangeable, but drinks made with gin can often be made with vodka, for those who don’t like the strong flavor of gin.

I respect the purist’s position, but nonetheless find myself drawn toward the vodka martini— triple-olived and slightly dirty, to add insult to injury. I do feel an appropriate measure of shame, which recedes slightly with each sip.

This year I enjoyed a prolonged phase of vodka martinis with anchovy-stuffed olives, which was brought to an abrupt halt when I suffered what appeared to be an attack of gout.

The two are NOT interchangeable. Vodka tastes awful. Gin tastes good.

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You could be quoting me. So my son (the one who is old enough to drink) says, “what about an appletini?” Grrrrr, go to your room and think about what you’ve just said!

For the OP, vodka recipes don’t usually suggest gin as a substitute but vodka can be used in place of gin for some people. When I see the words “gin or vodka”, I read it as “gin or, if you don’t like booze, vodka.”

Okay, two things:

First, back in the olden days when I was growing up, America was the good guys, the Russkis were commies, and vodka (their saving grace) was made from potatoes. Why do I see ads today that suggest that vodka can be made from other ingredients, like wheat? What happened to potato-squeezin’s vodka?

Also, now I feel an urge to put on my June Christy album.

A cigarette? I don’t smoke them as a rule…

James Bond recommended using a grain based vodka.

But my point is that there didn’t used to be such a thing. Vodka was distilled potato peeling juice, and that was that.

When did that change? Did Bond inspire that?

And how did the Russians make vodka before the potato was brought over from the new world, anyway?

Just try to find a vodka made from anything other than grain in most stores these days. Grain is cheaper, easier to transport and process, and gives more yield per hectare. But there are still vodkas made from other stuff. After all, the charateristic of vodka is its purity, so it’s so distilled and filtered that it can be made from just about anything.

Ian Fleming started writing the Bond books in 1953, grain vodka already existed.
Maybe potatoes were just cheaper or more plentiful for the Russians to use.

Plenty of vodka continues to be made from potatoes (such as the top-rated one in this taste test). Corn, wheat and other grains may also be used, but also molasses, sugar beets, all kinds of things. For large producers it’s mostly a matter of regional availability.

Gin is always made from grains, usually corn plus barley or rye plus barley.

Rye and wheat are the classic grains for vodka. Potato vodka is kind of looked down upon by Russians, but there are a number of Polish potato vodkas that are pretty good. According to Wikipedia, potato vodka was a 19th century innovation. This site claims rye to be the original grain used in the production of vodka.