The Dirty Martini is a cocktail based on the classic Martini. It gets its name from the fact that the “dirty” olive brine is added to the cocktail. You can get it mostly in the USA. In Europe for some reason it is rather frowned upon to add the brine.
President Roosevelt is said to have not only poured this drink to mark the end of prohibition. He was supposedly so taken with the mix that he also offered it to Stalin and Churchill. Unfortunately, it is not known whether the alliance partners enjoyed the cocktail as much.
This drink has its lovers and haters given its unique salty taste. Then there are those who prefer the drier drink, making restricted use of vermouth, and even those who enjoy a lemon twist after the cocktail is strained into the cold glass.
One suggestion: taste the brine before making the dirty martini, and check its saltiness. When in doubt, add the brine gradually and taste the drink so as not to ruin your martini.
The right spirit: Gin vs Vodka
Start with the vodka variant. Vodkas with grain spirits in them make the savory notes even more exciting and intense due to the grain impact.
Then try a gin based martini with a mild, classic gin and citrus notes or better still a very Mediterranean gin.
We highly recommend Gin Mare and Rutte Celery as they pair well with the savory notes in this cocktail. Both these gins also make terrific Gin and Tonics with the right tonic water. You can read our suggestions here.
Which Olives to Use
- The black olives are mostly colored. But there are also real, black olives. In contrast to the green ones, they are mature, but often very bitter and sometimes have a slight almond flavor. Exciting, but nothing for the martini.
- Olives with stone have more of their own taste which is mostly more intense. For maximum guest service, you can remove the stone last minute.
- If your olives are pickled very salty, we recommend working with two or three crushed olives instead of the brine.
While it is alright to use the brine from olives in a jar, you can up your game by using Dirty Sue Olive Juice instead.
This brine is twice filtered and made from premium olives from southern Spain. It is especially meant for making Dirty Martinis.
But be careful to add the brine bit by bit, lest you should make your Martini too dirty!
Herbal and not too bitter, or white vermouth, which is significantly sweeter than classic dry ones, work a little better on average. Overall, however, it is less the sweetness of the product that is more important than that it goes well with the olives.
- 2 ounces gin
- 1/2 ounce dry vermouth
- 1/2 ounce olive brine
- Ice cubes
- Garnish: 3 to 4 olives
- Pre-cool a martini glass.
- Put ice cubes in the shaker.
- Pour vermouth on top and stir with the cocktail stirrer.
- Pour the gin and olive brine into the shaker.
- Stir for about half a minute with the cocktail stirrer.
- Pour the contents through a strainer into the martini glass. Don’t add the ice too.
- Garnish with 3-4 olives.
More Savory Cocktail Recipes