The Rise Of Vodka Cocktails in the 1940s.
Vodka cocktails were almost nonexistent and not popular till the 1940s. Except for the Bloody Mary, I can’t think of a single cocktail that contained vodka before the 1940s. What happened in the 1940s to change that? The Moscow Mule was invented in 1941, and its overnight success suddenly made vodka a popular spirit. Most classic vodka cocktails can be traced back to this period. Since Vodka had no history of being used as an ingredient, bartenders found it easy to replace gin with vodka and give the drink a fun new name. The screwdriver was just an orange blossom with vodka. The vodka Martini was just a martini with vodka, and a drink called the Russian Bear (most likely origin of the White Russian) was just an Alexander with vodka instead of gin, and the list goes on.
In David Embury’s 1948 book “The Fine Art Of Mixing,” he states he has no idea why anyone would want to replace gin for vodka as it is a flavorless dull spirit that adds nothing to a drink. He compared mixing with vodka to mixing with water. Lucius Beebe’s 1946 book “The Stork Club Bar Book” is less judgmental of vodka cocktails but also claims most vodka cocktails are just modified gin cocktails. Beebe provides two vodka martini recipes which are garnished and served identical to a standard dry martini. This is Beebe’s Vodka Martini #1 recipe that follows the same 1:2 ratio of dry vermouth to dry gin as a traditional dry martini.