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The difference between "martinis" and "cocktails"

Do you like "apple-tinis"?  How about "chocolate martinis"?

Well, what you're actually drinking is a cocktail, not a martini! These days, the two words are often used interchangeably. Language evolves as the years march on, so perhaps I should just accept that the vernacular has changed (but I will not start saying "High Tea" when it's really "Afternoon Tea"). If you're pedantic and want to know the true definitions of these bar buzzwords, here they are:

Cocktail*: a mixed drink containing two or more ingredients, one of which is an alcoholic spirit.

Martini: a cocktail made with gin and vermouth, often garnished with olives.

Want to know how to make a martini? Here's a helpful video. Oh, and would like to know more about the "shaken vs stirred" preference?


*although even "cocktail" used to mean "a drink made of spirits, sugar, water, and bitters". See? Things change. And, yes, I switch them around every now and then.

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Reader Comments (2)

This is quite a revelation! Equivalent, I suppose to all the "bisques" on restaurant menus that don't include seafood.

So when I order a dirty vodka martini, is that the correct moniker???

October 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKelley C. Long

Ha, I had no idea! Thanks for the tip. Now I can know what exactly I should be calling whatever I offer my guests. :)

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