Gin vs. Vodka: What Are The Differences?

Gin and vodka are two very different spirits, each with its own unique flavors and qualities. This handy Gin vs. Vodka guide goes over their differences, how to use them in cocktails, and the unique flavors and qualities of each!

🍸 Are vodka and gin the same?

Gin and vodka may look the same and be some of the most popular spirits used by bartenders, but the two are very different. It’s important that both experienced and beginner mixologists know the differences and how to use each one, as they both have very distinct flavors that make them better suited for mix-ins and cocktails.

This guide will teach you about the differences between gin and vodka, the flavors and ingredients that make them both unique, and popular cocktails to try them with. You’ll be a gin and vodka expert by the end!

Icy vodka bottle next to shot glasses.

📋 What are the key differences?

Both gin and vodka are clear, distilled spirits that are easy to mix with a variety of flavors. However, there are a few key differences between them:

Gin  

  • What is gin?: Gin is a clear spirit with a piney, botanical flavor thanks to its main ingredients: juniper berries and grains.
  • Ingredients: All gin is made with juniper berries, grains, botanicals, and aromatics. 
  • Taste: Most gin has notes of pine from the juniper, but every brand uses different ratios of botanicals and aromatics to achieve unique flavors. These can include citrus peel, angelica root, lavender, lemongrass, ginger root, rosemary, and more. Some brands are juniper-forward, have hints of citrus, are herbaceous and floral, and so on.
  • Alcohol content: No less than 40% ABV (as required by US and EU law).

Vodka

  • What is vodka?: Vodka is a clear spirit made from fermented grains and starches, giving it a subtle flavor and smooth mouthfeel.
  • Ingredients: You can make vodka from any ingredient that has fermentable sugars or starch, but grains (corn, rice, sorghum, or wheat) and potatoes are the most popular choices.
  • Taste: Vodka is an almost tasteless and odorless alcohol, making it hard to tell the differences between each brand. Instead, it’s better measured by a smooth or silky mouthfeel and the amount it burns when swallowed.
  • Alcohol content: No less than 40% ABV.

In summary

Both gin and vodka are made from natural ingredients and have a high alcohol content. While vodka is neutral in flavor, gin’s botanical qualities make it harder to pair with other mixers.

Ways to drink gin

Gin can be poured on the rocks and sipped or, if you’re new to the world of gin, I recommend starting with a beginner-friendly Gin and Tonic. Made with just two ingredients, it’s a bubbly cocktail that’s fun to sip without missing out on the individual notes of the gin.

It’s also a crucial part of many classic cocktails, like a negroni, gin martinis, and gimlets.

More gin cocktails

Ways to drink vodka

Its lack of flavor and smell make vodka a popular choice with bartenders. These neutral qualities mean it’s easy to mix with practically anything, like other spirits, soda, juice, tonic water, and more. You can even infuse it with other ingredients, like fresh blackberries or herbs, to make your own infused vodka.

It isn’t just for drinking, either. Vodka’s neutral flavor makes it ideal for preserving vanilla beans in homemade vanilla extract, it brings a pop of spicy flavor in pasta sauce, and can even be used as a base in homemade bug spray. Check out more unconventional ways to use vodka!

More vodka cocktails

  • Moscow Mule – A classic cocktail that packs a punch with vodka, ginger beer, and lime.
  • Dill Pickle Martini – A 3-ingredient puckery spin on a dirty martini. You can make this with gin, too!
  • Espresso Martini – A delicious pre- or post-dinner pick me up cocktail for coffee lovers.
  • Cosmopolitan Cocktail – Channel your inner Sex and the City fan with this tart and fruity vodka cocktail.
  • Seabreeze Cocktail – Refreshing, light, and citrusy, this 3-ingredient cocktail is dangerously delicious and perfect for serving a crowd.

ℹ️ FAQs

Is gin healthier than vodka?

According to the CDC, alcohol has both short and long-term side effects, meaning overuse can be harmful to your health. While neither is necessarily good for you, 1 ounce of both gin and vodka contains about 100 calories, zero carbs, and zero sugar.

Which has more alcohol: gin or vodka?

Both gin and vodka are required to have no less than 40% ABV. One is not stronger than the other, although the botanical flavors in gin can help tone down the strong flavors of alcohol.

What can you mix with gin?

Gin is often mixed with tonic water for gin and tonics, as well as vermouth in martinis. It can also be mixed with tropical juices, flavored sparkling water, and citrus juice.

Bottle tops.

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Side view of two pickle martinis garnished with small pickles.

Gin vs. Vodka (What are the Differences?)

Gin and vodka are two very different spirits, each with its own unique flavors and qualities. This handy Gin vs. Vodka guide goes over their differences, how to use them in cocktails, and the unique flavors and qualities of each! But you can use either vodka or gin to make this delicious Dill Pickle Martini!
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Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 1 cocktail

Ingredients

  • Dry vermouth
  • 4 ounces vodka
  • 1 ounce pickle juice
  • Ice
  • Pickle spears (to garnish)

Instructions

  • Add a splash of dry vermouth to a martini glass. Swirl to coat, then dump out.
  • Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add vodka and pickle juice. Shake for at least 30 seconds then strain into the prepared martini glass. Garnish with a pickle spear and enjoy.
Did you make this recipe?Mention @platingsandpairings or tag #platingsandpairings!

Equipment

Cocktail Shaker
Martini Glasses
Cocktail Picks

Nutrition

Calories: 270kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Sodium: 426mg

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