All you boozehounds may be interested to read today's New York Times, as wine and spirits writer Eric Asimov and friends drank 80 martinis in an effort to find the best martini gin.The subject was supposed to be solely gin. But because gin is often consumed in a martini, we decided to taste the gin as expressed through the world's most famous (and perhaps least understood) cocktail. We discovered that while great martinis require great gins, great gins don't necessarily make great martinis.
The gin category has exploded in the last decade, with distillers offering unusual riffs on the classic theme. Some of these make for striking gins, although they struck out as martinis. Our task was to sort out which gins produced classic martinis, which added welcome nuances and which really ought to seek another line of cocktail.
Before we discuss the findings, though, we need to clear up a little matter. It's come to my attention that some people believe martinis are made with vodka. I hate to get snobbish about it, but a martini should be made with gin or it's not a martini. Call it a vodkatini if you must, but not a martini. Gin and vodka have as much in common hierarchically as a president and a vice president. Vodka can fill in for gin from time to time and might even be given certain ceremonial duties of its own, but at important moments you need the real thing. Vodka generally makes a poor substitute for gin in a martini or any other gin cocktail.
Remember, please drink responsibly.