What is the difference between gin and vodka?
A dry martini, sometimes called an "up" martini, can be made with either type of spirit; however, the distinction really comes down to the botanicals used. While these are both clear spirits (meaning they don't have any added colour) that will make your cocktail taste like nothing but alcohol (and often times burn), there are some key differences between them.
First of all, every gin must contain juniper berries as one of its botanical ingredients. On the other hand, many vodkas do not even include grain (such as wheat or rye) in their ingredient list at all because grain neutral spirits (more popularly known simply as GNS) are defined as distilled spirits made from anything other than grain and can include potatoes, molasses, grapes and even soy. GNS is typically more neutral in flavour and therefore used as a base to create vodka flavours through the infusion process.
Vodka has been described as "a high-proof alcohol flavoured by distillation from any source that contains ethanol" with no minimum stated for ingredients. Gin usually includes juniper berries or anise seed as one of its botanicals with some including others such as coriander seeds, cloves, lemon peel, cinnamon bark and/or angelica root. Many gins are also required to have a minimum ABV (alcohol by volume) of 37.5%. Vodka doesn't have a definitive ABV due to it being defined by what it is not rather than what it is.
So there you have it... These are the key differences between gin and vodka. While you can't go wrong with either one, they are definitely different.
Until next time!