There are few drinks as iconic as the martini. However ubiquitous, it is also mysterious. It seems there are an endless number of versions and recipes. The dirty martini may be the first fruit martini. Although savory in flavor, the olive is an ancient fruit of great esteem and legend. In fact, it is likely that the dirty martini will never fall out of fashion. While everyone may have their own approach to the dirty martini, one thing is certain: it has been the muse of artists and writers for decades. Raconteur H.L. Mencken declared, “Martinis are the only American invention as perfect as a sonnet.”
- 2-3 oz. high quality gin or vodka
- ½-1 oz. dry vermouth
- ¼-1/2 oz. olive juice
- 3 green olives
- Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add gin or vodka. Add vermouth and olive juice. Shake and pour into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with olives.
- A dry martini would require the lesser amount of vermouth.
- A very dry martini may only have vermouth swirled in the glass before adding the chilled gin or vodka with a splash of olive juice.
- The driest of martinis have no vermouth at all.
The secrets of a delicious dirty martini include a high-quality gin or vodka, properly chilled. James Bond did much to promote the method of using a cocktail shaker when he insisted, “Shaken, not stirred.” It may be the superior method for both chilling the alcohol and combining the ingredients.
Another variable is the olive. The amount of olive juice used swings widely to suit various tastes. Olive lovers have been known to go so far as to order “filthy” and “obscene” martinis in their quest for the briny flavor. Whatever the shade of a dirty martini, due consideration should be given to the olives used as the iconic garnish.
The martini olive appears to almost always be green, and many culinary variations are used to enhance the appeal of the drink. Most popular today include bleu cheese stuffed olives for a creamy addition with bite, jalapeno stuffed olives for a touch of heat, garlic stuffed olives for the garlic lover, and even sausage stuffed olives for the meat lover.