Two clear liquors, each with a repertoire of classy cocktails and classic mixed drinks. Both popular in its own right throughout the United States and worldwide. Gin and vodka may look similar, but that's where the resemblance between these two clear spirits ends. Whether you're looking to host a cocktail party or simply hit the bar on a Friday night, you probably have a go-to drink. Most people have a distinct preference between gin and vodka, so let's take a look- between gin vs vodka, which is the clear winner?
The Gin Side of Things
Gin is one of those divisive alcohols that people generally love or hate. Its origins date back to the creation of genever, a medicinal spirit with a wine base created in Holland. Genever means "juniper" in Dutch, and it follows that the alcoholic spirit called genever consists of a malt wine base and lots of juniper berries for taste. In the 17th century, the English discovered genever and called it "Dutch courage." I'm assuming they were experiencing the effects of alcohol that lead us to use the term "liquid courage" in modern times!
Throughout its evolution, gin lost the wine base and became what it is today, a distillation of spirits with juniper berries. These juniper berries are what cause gin to be more flavorful than vodka. The five basic styles of gin are London Dry, Plymouth Gin, Old Tom gin, Navy Strength, and American or West Coast gin. These each have differing flavors and uses, and each type has a plenitude of brands, from Tanqueray to Bombay Sapphire to Beefeater.
Apart from the style, different gins can be categorized by the production method used. Some gin is distilled, during which juniper berries and other aromatics are combined and distilled together. Gin can also be redistilled, during which a neutral base spirit is redistilled with juniper berries and other aromatics. The third style of gin is compounded, which involves combining a a neutral base spirit with juniper berries and other aromatics.
Gin is the base of many popular cocktails like the gin and tonic, negroni and classic martini. While others prefer tequila, cognac or other liquors, gin has its own solid fan base in the gin vs vodka debate.
What About the Vodka?
Vodka originated in Eastern Europe, although it's unclear whether it was originally created in Russia, Poland or Sweden. Vodka comes from the Russian word for water, voda. This makes sense, as vodka it is meant to be flavorless, except for flavored vodka of course. This clear liquor can be defined as "neutral spirits filtered to be devoid of flavor, aroma or color."
One way in which vodka is distinct from gin is that it can be made of many things. Most vodka is produced from the fermentation of grains like corn, rice or sorghum, but some is made from potatoes or fruits. Some of the most popular brands of vodka are Grey Goose, Absolut and Smirnoff.
Like gin, vodka is also the base of many drinks, such as the vodka martini, bloody Mary, Moscow mule, white Russian and the screwdriver. Vodka cocktails have been central in pop culture, from James Bond's love of the Vesper martini to Carrie Bradshaw's love of the cosmopolitan in Sex and the City.
Gin vs Vodka
It's hard to say who wins in the gin vs vodka debate. If we're measuring by popularity, vodka has been the most consumed type of liquor in the U.S. since 1970, and about a third of the liquor market is composed of vodka. However, gin is preferable for those who enjoy a slightly herbal, junipery flavor. It's up to you to decide whether gin or vodka is the winner, but no matter your choice or whether you serve it up or down, cheers to your next cocktail!