It can be hard to tell the difference between the margarita and the martini, as they have a few important things in common.
However, they are also quite different, which is what I will show you in the article!
If you’re here just for a quick summary, here are the main differences between the two:
The main difference between margarita and martini is their ingredients. While the margarita consists of tequila, orange liqueur, and lime juice, the martini is only made with gin and dry vermouth. However, they look quite similar because of the glasses they are served in.
That’s the short version! However, there is a lot more to know about the ingredients, and also how they are made and served!
They also differ in alcohol percentage and calories, which we’ll cover in this article as well!
Is a Mojito Similar to a Margarita?
Yes, and no. When it comes to taste and ingredients, they are very different. Although, it’s easy to get confused by how they look, which we’ll get back to soon.
Here’s a neat illustration comparing the drinks:
As you can see in the illustration above, the ingredients are quite different!
However, it’s not without reason you are reading this article.
A lot of people who are not familiar with the drinks do confuse them!
I’m glad you asked. As the heading says, it has to do with the glasses they are served in.
They are both served in these luxurious high stems glasses, which are quite shallow (not deep).
Both of the glasses used for these drinks are specially designed for these two cocktails! Now how do you tell them apart?
You probably know how the martini glass is looking, as this is quite iconic. Heck, even my logo is including one…
However, you may argue that my logo has a cocktail glass, which is actually correct as well.
Wait… Are they the same?
So the thing is that martini was actually served in a normal cocktail glass, to begin with. But after getting popular the amount of vodka in the drink grew…
Obviously, the glass was beginning to become too small (“OK, captain obvious!”). However, this ended in the bowl getting larger, and that’s how the martini glass was born!
Gladly, there is more difference between the margarita glass and the martini glass:
You can see that the margarita glass has this extra coupe on the bottom.
The reason is somewhat unknown, however, some people say it’s supposed to be an upside-down sombrero. This makes sense, as the margarita was born in Mexico!
One of the reasons these glasses are so wide is that there’s supposed to be room for different types of garnish:
This is where things get really interesting for these cocktails! As both of them are famous for their garnish.
You may have noticed in a lot of movies where people drink martinis they also have something in the drink.
There are two types of garnish normally used for the martini, the most famous one is definitely the green olives.
These are awesome and send strong James Bond vibes. The best way to use them is to thread on a small skewer like this:
Just look how clean and classy it looks! But it actually possible to do this simple thing wrong…
You should never have an even number of olives in the drink! That’s believed to be bad luck.
So stick to either 1 or 3, the latter looks best (like in the picture).
The other garnish to use (also amazing), is a lemon peel like this:
When going with the lemon peel you are supposed to squeeze out the oil from the peel before using it as garnish! This is nice as it adds a little hint of lemon juice to the drink!
Now, if you are impressed by the martini’s garnish… Just wait until you see the margarita.
Margarita may be one of the best-looking cocktails to order at a bar.
So if you are going to impress your, friends, the margarita is definitely a good choice.
Why is it so impressive you might think?
It’s of course because the margarita glass looks awesome. But the garnish just makes it better.
The glass is actually rimmed in salt! Like this:
The reason for this is mainly because the salt really compliments the taste of the drink. But when it comes to impressing your friends, the main reason is that it looks cool.
To make the salt hang on to the glass, you use a lime wedge and run it around the glass!
In fact, the lime is the second garnish for the margarita.
How the lime is cut varies. Sometimes you may be served a lime wheel, other times half a wheel, and most often as a wedge, like in the picture.
We are going to talk about the ingredients used to make these drinks soon. However, I’ve noticed a lot of people wonder which of them contains the most calories.
So let’s check that first:
Margarita vs Martini: Calories, which is more healthy?
Does the margarita or the martini contain more calories?
That’s a good question, and I will tell you exactly how much both of them contain and which is the best option in terms of calories.
A martini contains more calories than a margarita following the official recipe from the IBA. An average martini contains 64 calories per fl oz (30ml), while a margarita has 60 calories per fl oz (30ml). However, the ingredients’ amount of calories varies slightly depending on brand and variant.
So which is more healthy?
As you can see, they are very much the same. Now, something to mention is that the margarita is normally a bit bigger than a martini.
This means that if you are comparing them to a number of drinks, the martini is more healthy. However, in terms of calories per fl oz (30ml), they are pretty much the same.
If you want to make a low-calorie health(ier) margarita, check out this article!
The next question that may arise is: Which is stronger?
Martini vs Margarita Alcohol Content (Which is stronger?)
It’s always nice to know how much alcohol you are consuming.
And since we are comparing the martini and the margarita, we’ll have to figure out which has more alcohol!
On average a martini is 36% ABV, while margarita is 33% ABV, following the official recipe from the IBA. Meaning the martini is stronger, however, per cocktail the margarita will contain more alcohol as it’s bigger. Be aware that alcohol percentage varies slightly depending on the ingredients used.
There you go!
As you can see they are pretty much the same both in terms of alcohol content and calories.
This means you can drink your favorite without feeling guilty in any way!
If you want more information about the alcohol content in a margarita and much more related to such… We’ve written an entire article on this here!
Now, the most important and the biggest difference between these two cocktails is the liquor!
Which is what’s coming up next:
The base of the drinks (Liquor)
If you are not familiar with the term “base” it’s simply what’s used in the cocktail.
It’s the foundation of every cocktail, and the alpha in the glass if you want.
The other ingredients are meant to complement the base.
For the martini the base is normally gin, however, you can also make it with vodka!
The classic way is using gin, but vodka has been popular for centuries as well. So whatever you choose, I accept it.
The margarita was born in Mexico, so of course, the base has to be Tequila!
When it comes to Tequila, there is an ocean to choose from.
So, if decide to make margarita, looks for 100% agave & blanco/silver (some people prefer the reposado Tequila as well).
If you want to know a bit more about this Tequila situation, and also which to choose for the margarita. Then check out this article I’ve written.
Base Complimenting Ingriedients
These are the other ingredients, which as the title states are supposed to compliment the base.
For a classic dry martini, which is the one we are talking about (and the one you get if you just order a martini). However, in addition to the base, there is mainly one extra ingredient.
This is the vermouth!
Vermouth (used in a martini)
The vermouth is a fortified wine, meaning it’s been added some sort of distilled spirit, in this case, brandy (grape spirit).
Because of this, the alcohol percentage of the wine is usually between 15-18% ABV.
To be clear it does not only increase the alcohol content, it also gives it extra taste and preserves it longer.
The “aromatized”, is a fancy word saying that the wine is infused with herbs, spices, fruits, etc. Another fancy word is “infused” meaning “added”.
Enough with the English lesson!
Vermouth is infused with a herb called wormwood, in German called, “wermut” and this is where the wine gets its name from.
First, it was called, “wermut”, then “vermut” and later in France, it changed to, “Vermouth”!
HOWEVER! That’s the history class for today as well…
The vermouth is a dry (white) wine! You’ll also see red vermouth wine, these are more often than not sweet and the contrary is true for the white vermouth.
Cointreau (triple sec) used in Margarita
Yes, this is the second ingredient in a margarita!
The margarita contains around 25% triple sec which is an orange liqueur.
If you want to make a REAL classic margarita, you must get the triple sec called Cointreau.
The Cointreau is 40% ABV, meaning it’s as strong as the base of the drink…
Its function in the drink is to sweeten it, and does also adds a nice touch of orange to the cocktail! Read more about the Cointreau and why it’s perfect for margarita here.
Lime Juice (the third ingredient in a margarita)
The third ingredient, also the last in a classic margarita is lime juice.
It’s incredibly important for the margarita, and these ingredients combined make a perfect balance. It’s so good your tastebuds might explode!
The margarita is part of the sours (which is a cocktail family), which means it needs a:
- Sweet part
- Sour part
…and with the right amount of these, it’s perfectly balanced. Especially, with a bit of salt which is part of the garnish!
In fact, I’ve written a full article on the margarita and why this combination is of ingredients is gold! Check out this article here, you’ll also learn about the golden ratio.
Next up we’ll discuss whether they’re shaken or stirred.
Once, you know this, you will have obtained mastery, drink mastery (James Bond referral).
So first up is the margarita:
The margarita is supped to be served up. Meaning cold without ice, and to make it cold you go ahead and shake it.
Cocktails that contain: dairy, cream liqueurs, fruit juices, eggs, or sour mix are shaken!
Next, the martini!
For the martini, there’s some discussion about whether it should be stirred or shaken (thanks to James Bond…)
However, traditionally the dry martini is supposed to be stirred! And that’s not without reason.
By shaking it you run the risk of “bruising the gin” as they say. Don’t do this, especially if the ones you are serving know how a martini should look.
“Bruising the gin”, means that you ruin the crystal clear smooth texture of the drink.
The reason is simply that shaking dilutes the drink (adding more water), and it also adds slivers of ice and oxygen bubbles making it look cloudy.
While stirring the drink is a much more delicate process, which does not leave ice slivers or oxygen bubbles in it.
Once the martini is stirred, it’s served up (cold without ice).
If you’ve read most of the article you are one step closer to drink mastery.
Now go get yourself a drink, it’s well deserved!