The Ingredient That Puts The Filth Into A Dirty Martini

For such a simple cocktail, martinis are tricky business. You can order your martini shaken or stirred, up, with a twist, and with either vodka or gin. The world is your martini glass, and you can choose what goes inside and how. The basics of a martini are quite simple: Start with either gin or vodka, add vermouth, and garnish with olives or, depending on your preference, lemon peel or onion. However, there are a few key alterations that can transform your martini into something entirely new — and plenty filthy. Perhaps the most iconic variant is the dirty martini, and for good reason. A dirty martini is briny, delicious, and sounds jaunty and fun when shouted across the bar. It's sure to impress and is the perfect drink to begin (or end) an evening.


What ingredient makes the dirty martini so dirty? The answer is simple and fitting, considering the drink's signature garnish. Brine, that salty liquid found in your jar of olives, is the key ingredient for a dirty martini. It gives your martini a foggy haze and alters the cocktail's usually clean, crisp flavors. This variation is perfect for those who prefer a more savory cocktail or for anyone who needs something to cut through the alcohol in a classic martini. But be warned, it's hard to stop at just one.

The right olive for you martini

How exactly should one go about making a dirty martini? Well, as with all things martini, it comes down to preference. First, you should choose your alcohol. A martini usually has a base of either gin or vodka. Because it is the foundation for the taste of your martini, the right base can make all the difference. Vodka has a more neutral and clean taste compared to other alcohols, which can help highlight the flavor of other ingredients and let your olive brine take the driver's seat in guiding your martini's flavor. Conversely, gin is more herbaceous, thanks to the addition of juniper berries. Gin can cut through the brine's saltier flavor, providing a more complex edge.


Next, choose the best olive. Best, of course, is relative, but you will want to select an olive that perfectly enhances your drink. The classic pimento-filled olive is always a good choice. However, there are several other options for those who want to kick their martini up a notch. For example, blue cheese-stuffed olives can give your martini an even funkier twist. If you want a spicy kick to your martini, jalapeno-stuffed olives are the perfect choice. On the other hand, Garlic adds an aromatic note that pairs well with a delicious Caesar salad. As for how much olive brine you add, that is completely up to you.

How to dirty up your martini

Now that you've picked your perfect olive, you'll want to add just the perfect amount of olive brine to your martini. Still, the perfect amount of brine comes down to personal preference. Some drinkers prefer just a splash of olive brine — just enough to add a salty kick and a bit of a foggy look to their drink. Other martini aficionados use a 1:2 ratio of olive brine to vodka or gin, which will make your drink much a much heavier olive flavor.


Of course, you could go retro with your dirty martini preparation. Originally, when the dirty martini was invented way back in the early 1900s, it was prepared by muddling an olive and adding it to the cocktail. This will take your drink from having a hint of olive to being as close to drinking an olive as possible. Of course, there is no right or wrong way to make a dirty martini, but you might have to make a few batches to find your perfect match.