9 Best Gins For Your Dirty Martini, According To The Pros

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The martini is one of those seemingly simple classic cocktails that is actually hard to perfect, and there are many variations to this drink. One is the dirty martini, which is basically a classic martini — made with gin and vermouth — with some olive brine added to the mix. With only three simple ingredients, it's important to choose a good gin as the base spirit.


Not all gins are created equal, and we're not just talking about quality here. Different kinds are made with different botanicals — the only one that's required to be there by definition is juniper, which gives the drink its main flavor. Some are more floral while some can be more aromatic or herbal, and not all of them work as well with the brine in a dirty martini. For example, those with more savory notes and those that have a bit of salinity tend to work best, while floral notes tend to clash with the flavors of olive brine. To help you narrow down the best gin for a dirty martini, we asked cocktail experts around the country, including bartenders and cocktail writers, for their top choices.



Beefeater gin has a long history dating back to the 19th century and is one of the biggest-selling gin brands in the world, in part because it's versatile enough for use in many different cocktails. It's a good example of a London dry gin, which means that it's been distilled from a grain neutral spirit, all the botanicals are natural, and only water is added after the distillation process. 


Beefeater gin is a classic London dry gin, which tends to work well for a dirty martini. It's also not as juniper-forward as some others, which makes it an even better fit. Brynn Smith, lead bartender at Bar Next Door in Los Angeles, told Chowhound that she loves Beefeater gin because it's a versatile bar stalwart. "The juice [of] Beefeater London dry just blends perfectly with all styles of cocktails, but [it's] so good in a dirty martini," she explained.

Melina Meza, beverage director at Level 8 in Los Angeles, is a fan as well. "[Beefeater's] juniper-forward flavors and blend of botanicals complement the kick of salinity with the olive brine, she said. According to Meza, it's a great choice for people who prefer their martinis extra dirty, which means the drink has an extra portion of olive brine.


Monkey 47

Monkey 47 is a gin made in the Black Forest of Germany, and it gets its name because it includes 47 botanicals from this mountainous region — one of the most unique ingredients being lingonberries. While the brand only launched in 2006, it has become a premium product that many bartenders love (it's also this writer's personal favorite gin). For Emilio Lourdes, assistant director of operations at Andaz hotel in West Hollywood, Monkey 47 is among the very best gins out there, and his choice when he makes himself a dirty martini. "Martini is a liquor-forward drink," he explained. "For a liquor-forward drink, you need to have a really good liquor." 


Andres Jorges at Negroni Beverly Hills also hails Monkey 47, noting that its depth and balance play extremely well off of the olive brine in a dirty martini. The gin has a peppery finish and hints of spices that go well with the cocktail, although we recommend not making it too dirty. In other words, use less brine to avoid masking the gin's complex flavors — especially important given this brand's higher price point.  


Sipsmith is a small, London-based distillery that is known for all things gin. Its star is the London dry that has won multiple international awards. The company was only launched in 2009 but it quickly gained many followers and was acquired by Suntory Global Spirits not long after.


The Sipsmith London Dry Gin is a blend of 10 different botanicals including coriander, cinnamon and orange peel. The botanicals create a well-balanced gin with the typical London dry flavor of strong juniper berries moderated by notes of oranges, but it's softer on the palate, which makes it a good gin for mixing various cocktails. 

Katie Stryjewski, author of the book "Cocktails, Mocktails, and Garnishes from the Garden," says that it's not worth overthinking such a straightforward cocktail — when it comes to flavor profile, classic is best. "The olive brine adds so much flavor that the more subtle notes of a gin can get lost," she said, noting that the brand "can stand up to the savory brine without clashing with it or being overpowered."


Ford's Gin

Ford's Gin is a collaboration between master distiller Charles Maxwell and veteran British bartender Simon Ford, with the input of other top bartenders around the world. So naturally, this gin is crafted with cocktails in mind. It's a London dry made using nine botanicals including coriander, jasmine, and grapefruit peels and is specifically made to play well in classic gin cocktails, dirty martini included.


Mike Zell, bartender at Girl & the Goat in Los Angeles, also prefers London dry gins in his dirty martinis. And one staple he always reaches for is Ford's Gin. "When talking gin for dirty martinis, I typically prefer a London dry style with a big juniper backbone that holds up to the savory olive brine, as opposed to a western or new world style which typically have more citrus and floral notes that don't match that flavor profile," he told Chowhound.

Amass Gin

Amass is made in California, and its unique flavor profile is why a number of bartenders call it their favorite gin to use in a dirty martini. Some of the unique botanicals used in this distilled spirit include reishi and lion's mane mushrooms. Both of these ingredients add some umami and savory notes that complement this specific cocktail.


For Chris Chernock, beverage director at Asterid in Los Angeles, Amass is his favorite gin for a dirty martini. "The botanicals used for their gin mesh extremely well with briny olive juice," he said. Ravin Buzzell, bartender at The Delphi Hotel, also has equally great things to say about Amass gin and loves the flavor profile. He told us that it's a great option to sip on its own, but also adds a nice depth to a mixed cocktail thanks to its selection of herbs and spices.

The Botanist

The Botanist Gin is made using 31 different botanicals, 22 of which are foraged on Islay, a 240 square-mile island in Scotland. The gin is actually made by Bruichladdich Distillery, a historic facility known for its single malt scotch. The island botanicals in the spirit include wild juniper berries, wood sage, and heather flowers. It's a favorite of Cameron Dodge-White, the bar director of Holy Water in Los Angeles, especially when he's making a dirty martini.


Dodge-White told Chowhound that the gin has a natural salinity from the air since the Islay distillery is so close to the ocean, and this saltiness is one of the aspects of the alcohol that goes well with the olive brine. He also likes that the spirit is higher-proof at 46% ABV. "The elevated proof of Botanist really helps cut through the brine in a dirty martini and make sure your [palate] knows you're drinking a gin drink," Dodge-White explained.

Gin Mare

Gin Mare is a gin made in Spain, the country that produces the most olive oil in the world, and the flavor profile is meant to evoke the Mediterranean. The alcohol is distilled using many different Mediterranean botanicals like basil and rosemary, but one of its most important ingredients is Arbequina olives. The presence of these fruits in the gin itself makes it an obvious choice for a dirty martini, and the spirit is also savory and herbaceous, which also works well in the drink.


Travis Parsley, lead bartender at the Nash Bar at the National Exchange Hotel in Nevada City, likes to have his dirty martini with Gin Mare. More specifically, he stirs it ice cold and serves it with an olive spear on a rosemary stalk. "The brininess from the olive juice is balanced out perfectly by the presence of the unique herb blend in the Gin Mare," Parsley told us.

Portobello Road savory gin

The London-based Portobello Road Distillery makes its savory gin using the same botanicals as its London dry option — with the addition of bergamot, rosemary, basil, and green olives. The presence of the herbs and fruits makes the perfect choice for a dirty martini. A pinch of sea salt is also added after the distillation process, and the salinity nicely complements the flavors of the olive brine. 


Liam Baer, beverage director of Acme Hospitality in Santa Barbara, thinks that most gins actually don't work well in a dirty martini because the flavor of the juniper or certain botanicals tend to mask that of the brine or even clash with it. Baer tends to prefer vodka when making dirty martinis, but one exception he makes is Portobello Road savory gin. For this reason, he always keeps a bottle handy in case guests request a dirty martini with gin. "This gin is made with olive and sea salt and isn't as juniper prominent as other gins," Baer explained.

Pure Sardinia Solo Wild

Pure Sardinia's Solo Wild Gin is a unique gin these days. Instead of the blend of multiple botanicals that's typically used to make others, this brand only contains wild juniper berries harvested in Sardinia and infused into local grain alcohol for 30 days. Yet it's far from being boring and one-note. Solo Wild Gin has a spicy note because the juniper flavor is at the forefront, but it still carries the aroma of herbs and citrus. Even with only one botanical, the gin somehow captures the aromas of the Mediterranean, and what's more Mediterranean than olives?


Marcelo Waldheim, wine and beverage manager at Stella Ristorante in West Hollywood, told Chowhound that this gin is the restaurant's choice for dirty martini. "The gin's herbal and savory notes can complement the olive brine, creating a more complex and layered flavor profile," he said. "This results in a strong, savory dirty martini."