Key Ingredients In A Dirty Martini
- Gin gin is basically just a botanical flavored vodka in my opinion.
- Vermouth The other spirit in a martini is vermouth.
- Olives While green olives are the standard in martinis, try taking it a step further by using stuffed olives. Blue cheese stuffed olives or pimento stuffed olives are also both great options.
Great Vodka For Dirty Martinis
It helps to know a bit about your vodka if you want to make a great martini of any sort. We can get into gin martinis another time because that is a whole other topic. But, for vodka martinis, just like gin, the quality of the alcohol makes a big difference.
This is a cocktail where you are meant to taste the alcohol, not bury it. Use cheap booze in some sort of sugary and syrupy mixer meant to hide it. For cocktails like dirty martinis, you want to taste the spirit, not conceal it.
These days, there are so many varieties of vodka to choose from. There are great domestic vodkas and of course the ever popular Russian, Polish, Swedish and French vodkas.
Lets just say it isnt hard finding a good vodka. The hard part is picking one among so many!
Choosing Your Liquor: Gin Or Vodka
Like much in the world of cocktails, your spirit of choice largely comes down to your personal preference. But, a dirty vodka martini will taste much different from one made with gin. Since vodka is a neutral spirit, the olive brine and salinity will be more predominant in a vodka martini, explains Jose Pereiro, beverage director of Storico Vino in Atlanta. A dirty martini made with gin will be more complex because the botanicals can open up sweet notes on your palate, which pair nicely with the olives.
If youre going for a dirty vodka martini, try incorporating a potato vodka, like Chopin , into your martini, says Will Patton, the beverage director of Michelin starred Bresca and Two Michelin starred Jont in Washington, D.C. The full-bodied, earthy flavor of these vodkas isnt bullied by the assertiveness of the olive brine, he says.
For dirty gin martinis, Darron Foy, bar manager at The Flatiron Room in New York City, recommends Hendricks Gin , which has notes of cucumber that plays well with olive. Or, for something more herbaceous and floral, opt for a bottle like The Botanist , Foy suggests.
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Why Add Olives To A Cocktail
How did adding olives to a dry cocktail happen in the first place? According toSipsmith, the first martinis were actually sweetened with syrups and garnished with cherries. In the 1880s there was a trend in savory garnishes, so bartenders started to use them. But why add olives? The salt and brine compliment the aromatics in the gin and the tang in the vermouth, taking the drink to new heights.
It wasnt until the 1930s where this trend caught on. Allegedly, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt hosted Winston Churchill and introduced him to the Dirty Martini, adding both olives and some of the brine to the drink. There are several variations to the story, but all that to say: this classic cocktail has a place in history!
What Olives To Use For A Dirty Martini
Good-quality briny, salty, green olives are your best bet for a dirty martini. Try green Cerignolas, Sevillanos, or even Castelvetranos for a sweeter taste. After that, it’s up to you. We prefer ours on the larger side and pitted, but this is a matter of taste.
We have also been known to use stuffed olives in a dirty martini when we’re feeling a little extra filthy. Garlic, anchovies, and blue cheese all work well if you like them. When we use stuffed olives, we don’t use their brine, which can be murky. Instead, we use a cleaner brine from a bottle, or from different olives.
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Vodkas I Like For Dirty Martinis
The quality of vodka is defined in a few ways. First, the amount of Heat it has is important. A good clean vodka doesnt feel like it is burning your tongue. A good clean taste that is smooth and doesnt burn your tongue is preferable.
Next, the type of water and the type of grain, vegetable, or even fruit makes a difference. The best vodkas are made from specific wheat grain. However, there are perfectly good vodkas made from potatoes, grapes, and even beets.
Here are some I can personally recommend:
- Grey Goose French vodka
- Stoli Often ranked as the best Russian vodka
- Square One a great domestic vodka
Make Your Own Olive Brine
If your local market has an olive bar filled with gourmet olives, use them to make olive brine. It is effortless and allows you to customize the selection of olives, even adding a variety to a single jar.
The best part is that you are in control of the juice and can formulate it to suit your taste perfectly. This simple DIY project can save the die-hard dirty martini drinker a considerable amount of money. As a bonus, you also get a custom choice of olives for garnishing all of your martinis.
To make a basic brine, you will need 2 cups of green olives, 2 cups water, 1/2 cup dry vermouth, 2 tablespoons vinegar, and 2 tablespoons salt. Any of these can be adjusted to taste as you perfect your recipe.
Place the olives in a glass jar with a tight-sealing lid. Recycled olive jars are a natural choice, and Mason jars work great as well.
Gently press the olives with the back of a wooden spoon firmly enough to release their juice. Try not to smash them as if you’re muddling fruit for a cocktail.
In a bowl, combine the other ingredients and mix well.
Pour the liquid over the olives until they are completely covered. Leave a little room for air at the top of the jar.
Seal the jar and shake it vigorously.
Refrigerate for at least one day and shake before using the juice.
If your juice gets a little low for the olives left in the jar, add more vermouth and give the mix a good shake.
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Do You Shake Or Stir A Martini
Weve all heard the iconic James Bond line shaken, not stirred.
In pretentious the cocktail world, shaking a martini is about as sacrilege as it gets. Right up there with adding club soda to an old fashioned.
It will ruin the drink!
But the dilution ratio!
Fortunately over here were only slightly pretentious.
So my take? You do whatever you like.
Remember, the martini is a personal drink so theres no right or wrong way when youre making drinks at home.
As long as you enjoy it, thats what matters.
Personally I do stir my martinis, and if were being technical I believe thats the correct way to make one.
But for instance my mom likes hers as freezing as possible and swears by the shake.
Do what you want, I wont judge you for it.
How To Make A Gin & Tonic
T: So lets get into that serve. Lets talk about your approach to making a G& T, and all of the different components of it. Lets start with gin. I believe youre the first guest on this show that has your own gin brand. Fords Gin is something thats been brought up by so many guests, and theres a reason for that. So tell us what you were setting out to do in the beginning, and tell us how that relates to what you think about when youre making a gin cocktail, and then I guess a G& T by extension.
T: What dont bubbles make there? And again, everything youre saying that I cant stop coming back to this idea of 600 years of R& D. Ive thought about this in relation to the Martini before. But its perhaps even more true with gin. Like the one thing that I find to be the incredible magic of a drink like the Martini is youre taking and youre taking gin and youre taking vermouth, which as well is a wine but with botanicals, right? Its a botanical wine. Theres so many flavors going on. These things shouldnt work together. The fact that they do is a miracle, and its the same with tonic.
T: Take us from there to take this. If Im saying, Simon, make me the worlds best Gin & Tonic right now. Make me the worlds best. What would you do, or what are the things you would focus on? Take me through the process.
T: Oh yeah, I can hear you here.
T: Not the balloons.
S: Well, I like the balloons, but not the Old Fashioned glasses. For a Gin & Tonic, I prefer a tall glass.
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This Northwest Brewery Has A Brilliant Side Hustle
Fast forward to the extra dry vodka martini, which has neither vermouth nor gin, and is in essence pure ethanol and water chilled and served with olives, said Caporale.
Caporale said this led to no flavor to offend, but also none to attract, with the sole exception being the olives and more importantly, their salty brine. Consumers continued to want the glass but still weren’t enjoying the actual liquid enough, and requests came in for more and ever more olives, until some intrepid customer must have told a barkeep, Cut to the chase, just pour some olive brine in there, said Caporale.
According to Caporale, that resulted in: The story of the dirty vodka martini, which is: The story of over a century spent systematically removing flavor from a still-classic drink , and then in desperation adding one the most common and addictive flavoring chemicals in the world: salt, said Caporale.
Maybe thats harsh. But for those of us who love the dirty martini just the way it is, there remains several directions to take it!
“As a bartender, as well as a consumer, I have always felt that a dirty gin martini was what the original creators of the dirty martini had in mind the first time they mixed gin and vermouth, said Jordan Johnson, lead bartender of The Register in Nashville.
This, said Johnson, makes it a difficult cocktail, but if you have a good basic recipe to lean on, it can make the process that much more attainable.
Stirring is key
Other Cocktails You Might Like
- Atlas Martini This is my personal favorite martini. Its more delicate and a little more approachable if youre new to martinis. And perfect for those of your who hate olives
- Last Word Want a gin drink that is much less spirit forward and a little bit friendlier for the person who isnt a martini drinker? Try a Last Word. Herbal, fresh and very unique.
- Aviation Cocktail Another gin drink that uses lemon, maraschino liqueur as a sweetener, and creme de violette to give it a mesmerizing purple hue. You might have to buy the bottle of creme de violette but dont worry, it will last you years.
- 20+ Great Cocktails to Make at Home Not seeing any youre into? Here are a couple dozen more you may like.
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Olive Garnish For A Dirty Martini
The classic garnish for dirty martinis are either unstuffed Spanish olives or blue cheese stuffed olives, although you may see other garnishes such as a lemon twist. Blue cheese stuffed olives add a spicy, sharp bite to the end of the martini as well as hitting your nose with blue cheese aromatics as you sip. Dirty Sue makes some of the best blue cheese stuffed olives around. If you’re not a blue cheese fan, you can try Dirty Sue’s feta stuffed olives, a pimento stuffed Spanish olive, or simply add your favorite pitted Spanish olive.
What’s The Difference Between Olive Brine And Olive Juice
In the cocktail world, olive juice and brine tend to mean the same thing, but there is a difference. Olives produce juice, which is pressed out of the fruit to make products like olive oil and the brine for cured olives.
Many people prefer to use the brine that is in a jar of olives for dirty martinis. And why not? If you have olives, you have salty juice right there. It is a very convenient and cheap addition to the drink. Plus, with all the gourmet olives availablestuffed with everything from the standard pimento to blue cheese or jalapeñoeach brine brings a slightly different taste to the martini.
There are also many olive juices available that are designed specifically for the dirty martini. They can vary quite a bit in taste, though they’re interesting to explore. It may take some time to discover which bottled olive juice you like best, so keep trying. Dirty Sue is a favorite for many dirty martini devotees. You might also try the cocktail-worthy olive juices from Boscoli, Fee Brothers, Filthy, Fragata, or Stirrings.
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How To Make A Gin Martini
This article was co-authored by Kady Richardson. Kady Richardson is a mixologist in the San Francisco Bay Area. Kady has completed the Comprehensive Bartending Training Program at The Cocktail Camp in San Francisco and specializes in creating approachable, at-home recipes for cocktails. Kady holds a BA in American Studies and an MA in Sociology from Stanford University.There are 9 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 54,694 times.
A gin martini is a cocktail made up of gin and dry vermouth, which is sometimes garnished with lemon twists, olives, or even cocktail onions, and is considered by some to be the only acceptable type of martini.XResearch source By following a few basic instructions you can mix up the classic version of the drink. If you like you can make a few variations to make the perfect drink for you.
Making A Classic Dirty Martini
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Dry Vermouth For A Dirty Martini
This is a bianco vermouth, which is a dry vermouth with just a hint of sweetness added not so much that it becomes a sweet vermouth, but not bone dry, either. This hint of sweetness brings balance to the olive brine in a dirty martini while its citrus notes and aromatics work well with the profile of the Drumshanbo gunpowder gin for a beautifully balanced and aromatic dirty martini. Alternatively, you can use Noilly Prat extra-dry vermouth, which has an aromatic profile that works well in a dirty martini for people who prefer an extremely dry martini.
Adding The Right Olives
Opt for olives that have seeds in them because they tend to stay fresher longer, says Jose Pereiro, beverage director of Storico Vino in Atlanta. He likes Castelvetrano from Sicily because theyre both sweet and salty, and super meaty.
Weston Holm, co-founder of Blue Cover Distillery in Scottsdale, Arizona, recommends large pimento green olives because the juice is not overly salty. Of course, blue cheese-stuffed olives make a killer martini, too.
Interestingly enough, you dont need to limit your martini brine to an olive brine, Taft says.
The definition of dirty martini means savory, he says. Flavors can come from all sorts of pickled vegetables.
Taft recommends starting with a nice base of equal parts apple cider vinegar and olive brine. Throw in some olives, onions, carrots, peppercorns, string beans etc. Let that sit at room temperature for 24 hours. Strain out the juice and let it chill in the fridge overnight.
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Why We Love This Recipe
As Hemingway’s Frederic Henry says of martinis in A Farewell to Arms, “I had never tasted anything so cool and clean. They made me feel civilized.”
The splash of olive brine that turns a martini into a dirty martini changes the drink’s vibe from perfectly clean to clean with a savory backbone. But otherwise, that’s exactly what we’ve always loved about this drink. Everything about the experience just feels right.
Check Out The Conversation Here
Tim McKirdy: Welcome to VinePairs Cocktail College. Im your host, Tim McKirdy, and Im very happy to welcome Simon Ford to the show. I think youre going to need to get Sting on the phone because youve got a couple of Brits out here hanging out in New York.
Simon Ford: Its great to be here talking about my favorite topic, classic cocktails. Love the show. Love what its all about, and glad we can talk about another drink today.
T: Thank you, Simon. Regular listeners of the show will be very familiar with yourself or at least your gin brand because I feel like Fords Gin comes up so often that I felt like we have to reach out to you. And I know you have that extensive history in bartending yourself, too. So I felt like it was becoming a bit awkward. We had to get you on the show because this is overdue by this point.
S: And now I promise, I promise this is like we havent sponsored this. Im here as a guest. This is organic. This is not pay-to-play.
T: History also being something which I know is dear to your heart, we are going to get into an incredible historical cocktail today. Because the Gin & Tonic is drenched in history, like so many of these gin drinks are that weve mentioned so far. But this one perhaps even more so than others, right? Were going to get into that. Thats going to be great.
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