Is a Martini made with Gin?

Is a Martini made with gin?

Yes, martini is traditionally made with gin.  But the real question of if a martini is made with gin or vodka is the question of who do you want to be in this world: an ignorant member of the mediocracy are you a fucking asshole?

Here's the thing, no wait, the things, no wait better, here are facts: 

We know the exact origin of very few cocktails that were invented before, I don't know, how about the 1930s.  All we can say is when something was first in print.

Cocktails, like everything, evolve.  "What they was, ain't what they is."  That is to say, tastes change, products change, and even the intention of what cocktails are for, changes.

Lastly, most pre-1940s cocktails that we consider "vodka cocktails" have roots as gin cocktails.


But this is the real thing; a Martini was in print, as a gin cocktail, with dozens of variations, for decades before the concept of a  "Vodka Martini."

But here is the other thing, who fucking cares.  The Martini has its origin in at least three different gin cocktails: The Martinez, Gin & It, and the Marguerite (recipes below).  All of these cocktails would get an "um, this is NOT what I ordered," from most Gin Martini drinkers and a speechless bovine stare from a Vodka Martini drinker.  In the 1930s, the Martini settled into being what we now call a "Sweet Martini," that is to say, a mix of gin, sweet vermouth, and orange bitters— with that shitty olive.  These days, all of my East-coast-elite friends never use an olive.

In 1962, Harry Saltzman and Cubby Broccoli penned the most influential biz-dev deal ever when Smirnoff paid to get the ultra-fuckable Sean Connery to order a "Vodka Martini, shaken, not stirred."  This combo of vodka, vermouth, specifically shaken, was already a cocktail: the Kangaroo or a Kangaroo Kicker.  But after James Bond mumbled it, it took gin a few decades to recover. 

More pernicious than this vodka coup was the popularity of the suffix "tini."  It became synonymous with all cocktails spiked with vodka,  corn syrup sweetened, and artificially colored.  Post cocktail renaissance, post-Jerry Thomas themed speakeasy bars, "tini's," have been mostly snuffed out.  However, the scars of disco drinks remain.

enter rambling metaphor

I was at the Bronx Zoo last week; this little kid ran into the room,

"look, daddy, an anteater." Thoughts in my head scream, "that's a tapir you little shit." 

"You're right **insert anglo name,** it's an anteater," dad says. I didn't yell, "Ima call CPS on your dumb ass, can't tell the difference between an anteater and tapir, can't believe you are a parent," but I wanted to yell that.   

But that wasn't what it's about— it was just a (dumb) father and an (adequate) son moment.  What I'm trying to say, is, do you want to be me, angry about tapirs & taxonomy, correcting people about gin and vodka, or do you want to accept that language is alive, it's about communication, being understood, and how things change.  

That and apparently, you can call any animal you are excited to see, "an anteater." 

So look, I drink a martini that is 2 parts high proof gin to 1 part dry vermouth with a lemon zest.  I think any cocktail nerd would be happy with it; I call it the "Michelle is Out of Town going to Watch a Bond Movie Martini."  That said, terrible name aside, that isn't really a Martini any more than a Vodka Martini is a Martini.  Purity is an illusion, pick a point on the spectrum and stick with it.  You can be the asshole that corrects those ordering Vodka Martinis; you could sample the entire "tini" menu, from Appletini to Zetatini or be somewhere in between.

But most importantly, know that an anteater is a common name for an aardvark that is entirely different from a tapir and having that knowledge doesn't give you value as a person.


If you steal this, make a fancy infographic, and don't credit me, I'll tell Adobe that you are pirating their software.

If you steal this, make a fancy infographic, and don't credit me, I'll tell Adobe that you are pirating their software.

These are Martini Recipies

Martinez 1887

  • 2 parts sweet vermouth
  • 1 part Old Tom Gin
  • 1/8 part maraschino
  • 2  dashes Boker's Bitters
  • shake, up

Gin & IT (alian vermouth1890s

  • 2 parts gin
  • 2 parts Italian (sweet) vermouth
  • stir, rocks

Marguerite 1911

  • 2 parts Plymouth Gin
  • 1 part dry vermouth
  • 2 dashes orange bitters
  • stir, up


Martini circa 1930s

  • 2 parts gin
  • 1 part sweet vermouth
  • 2 dashes orange bitters
  • shake, up
  • olive


Martini circa 1950sI often call this "Embury Dry" after the 1948 book The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks

  • 7 parts gin
  • 1 part dry vermouth 
  • stir/ up
  • lemon zest above glass discard, olive in glass

Martini, Vodka circa 1960s

  • 3 parts vodka
  • 1 part dry vermouth- and less vermouth every year
  • shake/ up
  • olive (s) one or three, never two


"Tini" 1980-2000

  • 2 parts vodka
  • 1 part whatever garbage you want
  • barely shake, strain into warm class. hate life
  • probably a gross cherry, maybe some bullshit on the rim


Martini, contemporary 

  • 2 parts minimum, vodka or gin- ask
  • 2 parts maximum, but likely less, dry vermouth- many guests want no vermouth- ask
  • 2 dashes orange bitters- or not, unlikely anyone will notic- ask
  • stir for gin, probably shake for vodka- ask
  • rocks or up- ask
  • lemon zest or pre-chilled, rinsed olive- ask

what a dumb minefield this has become


Michelle is Out of Town going to Watch a Bond Movie Martini circa Skyfall

  • 2 parts navy strength gin
  • 1 part whichever dry vermouth is freshest
  • stir/ up
  • lemon zest
  • make them very small, have two