Whiskey is liquor distilled from grain, and vodka is therefore whiskey. Underaged, over-distilled, heavily filtered whiskey, but still whiskey. It’s what remains of the stuff when you kill its body—pure spirit. And yet, you wouldn’t think that the soul of such a rugged distillation would turn out to be so…accommodating. Easy, if you prefer: It’ll mix with anything. Americans didn’t drink vodka until after 1945. Sure, it turned up from time to time in the 1930s, but oh-so-sparingly. A novelty, as it were. In 1950, forty thousand cases of vodka were sold. In 1955, four million. Now that’s marketing. In 1967, vodka outsold gin. In 1976, it outsold whiskey. Practically no flavor? That was a good thing. It’s what the people wanted.
The vodka martini itself is a fine drink—icy, refreshing, smooth. What it isn’t, however, is a martini. Those you make with gin. In fact, the vodka version used to have a name of its own, the Kangaroo. That never really caught on. Then it was the Vodkatini. But who’s going to say that? Now, of course, it’s calling itself “martini,” without a prefix. Such, we suppose, is the right of a conqueror. Here’s how to properly make one, shaken, with French vermouth. Bond would approve.
- Shake the ingredients well with cracked ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
- Garnish with a twist (or an olive).
Truth be told, we find the vodka martini much improved by a dash of orange bitters. Up to you.
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