Dirty Martini Cocktail Drink

Dirty Martini

A shot of Gavin Wrigley looking to the camera in a dimly lit room
Written by Gavin Wrigley
Andrea
Tested by
Andrea Ottaiano
3 from 1 vote

If you want to make a classic cocktail, this Dirty Martini recipe has all the necessary ingredients! It’s a straightforward drink that’s as fun to make as a sip.

Dirty Martini Recipe

Unwind with this straightforward, Dirty Martini recipe! Crafted with vodka or gin, olive brine, and a whisper of dry vermouth, this savory cocktail is a flawless companion for a relaxed evening.

Prep time:

1 minute

Mixing time:

1 minute

Servings:

1

Calories:

160 kl

Ingredients

  • 2 oz Vodka or Gin
  • 1 tsp olive brine
  • 1 tsp dry Vermouth
  • Ice cubes
  • Olive, for garnish, optional

Equipment

  • Mixing Glass
  • Measuring Jigger
  • Bar spoon
  • Strainer
  • Martini Glass

Instructions

  • Chill Glass: Place your Martini glass in the freezer or fill it up with ice, to chill.
  • Add Olive Brine: Measure and pour 1 tsp olive brine.
  • Add Dry vermouth: Add 1 tsp dry Vermouth to the mix.
  • Add Spirit: Measure and pour 2 oz Vodka or Gin.
  • Stir Well: Ice up the mixing glass and stir the ingredients with a bar spoon for about 45 revolutions.
  • Strain: Strain the mixture into your chilled Martini glass with no ice.
  • Garnish: Garnish with olives.

Notes

Substitutes:

  • Vodka/Gin: I often use gin for its botanical flavor, but vodka works perfectly if you prefer a smoother taste. I've also tried Aquavit for an herbal twist.
  • Olive Brine: If you run out of olive brine, pickle juice can be a fun alternative, giving the drink a unique tang.
  • Dry Vermouth: In a pinch, white wine with a splash of vinegar can replace dry vermouth, altering the drink's character but maintaining its essence.

Making a Pitcher of Dirty Martini:

  • Scale: To make a pitcher that serves 8, use 16 oz of vodka or gin, 8 bar spoons of olive brine, and 8 bar spoons of dry vermouth.
  • Mix: Combine the ingredients in a large ice-filled pitcher and stir well.
  • Serve: Strain the mixture into chilled Martini glasses, garnish with olives, and serve immediately.

Making it Non-Alcoholic:

  • Vodka/Gin Substitute: Use a non-alcoholic spirit like Seedlip Spice for a complex, aromatic flavor.
  • Proceed As Usual: Replace the alcoholic ingredients with the non-alcoholic substitutes and follow the original steps to enjoy a non-alcoholic Dirty Martini.

Making it Vegan:

  • Vegan Olive Brine: Ensure the olive brine is cured from olives without animal products. Some olives are fermented with whey, so look for brands that specify they are vegan.
  • Vegan Vermouth: Choose a vermouth that doesn't use animal products in the fining process. Many brands are now offering vegan-friendly options.

Nutrition Facts

Calories
160
% Daily Value*
Sodium
 
75
mg
3
%
Carbohydrates
 
2
g
1
%
Sugar
 
0.2
g
0
%
Potassium
 
16
mg
0
%
Calcium
 
3
mg
0
%
Iron
 
0.02
mg
0
%

 

Dirty Martini Cocktail Drink

Dirty Martini Recipe

Gavin Wrigley Written by Gavin Wrigley
3 from 1 vote
Jump to Video
Unwind with this straightforward, Dirty Martini recipe! Crafted with vodka or gin, olive brine, and a whisper of dry vermouth, this savory cocktail is a flawless companion for a relaxed evening.
Prep time: 1 minute
Mixing time: 1 minute
Servings: 1
Calories: 160

Ingredients
 

  • 2 oz Vodka or Gin
  • 1 tsp olive brine
  • 1 tsp dry Vermouth
  • Ice cubes
  • Olive - for garnish, optional

Equipment

  • Mixing Glass
  • Measuring Jigger
  • Bar spoon
  • Strainer
  • Martini Glass

Instructions

  • Chill Glass: Place your Martini glass in the freezer or fill it up with ice, to chill.
  • Add Olive Brine: Measure and pour 1 tsp olive brine.
  • Add Dry vermouth: Add 1 tsp dry Vermouth to the mix.
  • Add Spirit: Measure and pour 2 oz Vodka or Gin.
  • Stir Well: Ice up the mixing glass and stir the ingredients with a bar spoon for about 45 revolutions.
  • Strain: Strain the mixture into your chilled Martini glass with no ice.
  • Garnish: Garnish with olives.

Notes

Substitutes:

  • Vodka/Gin: I often use gin for its botanical flavor, but vodka works perfectly if you prefer a smoother taste. I've also tried Aquavit for an herbal twist.
  • Olive Brine: If you run out of olive brine, pickle juice can be a fun alternative, giving the drink a unique tang.
  • Dry Vermouth: In a pinch, white wine with a splash of vinegar can replace dry vermouth, altering the drink's character but maintaining its essence.

Making a Pitcher of Dirty Martini:

  • Scale: To make a pitcher that serves 8, use 16 oz of vodka or gin, 8 bar spoons of olive brine, and 8 bar spoons of dry vermouth.
  • Mix: Combine the ingredients in a large ice-filled pitcher and stir well.
  • Serve: Strain the mixture into chilled Martini glasses, garnish with olives, and serve immediately.

Making it Non-Alcoholic:

  • Vodka/Gin Substitute: Use a non-alcoholic spirit like Seedlip Spice for a complex, aromatic flavor.
  • Proceed As Usual: Replace the alcoholic ingredients with the non-alcoholic substitutes and follow the original steps to enjoy a non-alcoholic Dirty Martini.

Making it Vegan:

  • Vegan Olive Brine: Ensure the olive brine is cured from olives without animal products. Some olives are fermented with whey, so look for brands that specify they are vegan.
  • Vegan Vermouth: Choose a vermouth that doesn't use animal products in the fining process. Many brands are now offering vegan-friendly options.

What is a Dirty Martini?

A Dirty Martini is a cocktail that combines vodka or gin with olive brine and a touch of dry vermouth. This drink stands out due to its savory flavor profile, distinguished by the boldness of the olive brine. It’s named “Dirty” because of the olive brine ingredient, which clouds the drink.

A side shot of a Dirty Martini in a coupe glass on a black stone coaster placed on a white marmol table with some olives on the side.

What is a Dirty Martini made of – The ingredients

The makeup of an Dirty Martini includes these ingredients:

  • Vodka or Gin: Acts as the base spirit, providing the foundational flavor; vodka offers a clean, clear taste, while gin adds botanical notes.
  • Olive Brine: Imparts a salty, savory flavor, giving the Martini its distinctive “dirty” character.
  • Dry Vermouth: Adds a hint of herbal and aromatic notes, balancing the robustness of the other ingredients.
  • Olive: Serves as a garnish, enhancing the olive brine’s flavor and adding a visual element to the cocktail.

Gin, dry vermouth and olive brine laid out on a white bar table

How do you make a Dirty Martini?

Our guide simplifies learning how to make a Dirty Martini:

1
<p>Place your Martini glass in the freezer to ensure it’s nice and cold when you pour the drink or fill it with ice before starting.</p>

Place your Martini glass in the freezer to ensure it’s nice and cold when you pour the drink or fill it with ice before starting.

2
<p>Pour one bar spoon of olive brine into the mixing glass to give the Martini its savory flavor.</p>

Pour one bar spoon of olive brine into the mixing glass to give the Martini its savory flavor.

3
<p>Add a splash of dry vermouth to introduce herbal notes.</p>

Add a splash of dry vermouth to introduce herbal notes.

4
<p>Pour 2 oz of vodka or gin into the mixing glass, depending on your preference.</p>

Pour 2 oz of vodka or gin into the mixing glass, depending on your preference.

5
<p>Ice up the mixing glass.</p>

Ice up the mixing glass.

6
<p>Use a bar spoon to stir the mixture, ensuring the ingredients are well combined and chilled.</p>

Use a bar spoon to stir the mixture, ensuring the ingredients are well combined and chilled.

7
<p>Hold a strainer over your mixing glass and pour the mixture into your chilled martini glass, with no ice.</p>

Hold a strainer over your mixing glass and pour the mixture into your chilled martini glass, with no ice.

8
<p>Add some olives to enhance the drink’s flavor and appearance.</p>

Add some olives to enhance the drink’s flavor and appearance.

9
<p>Hand over the freshly made Dirty Martini to be enjoyed while it’s still cold.</p>

Hand over the freshly made Dirty Martini to be enjoyed while it’s still cold.

What is the difference between a Martini and a Dirty Martini?

A Martini and a Dirty Martini share a base of gin or vodka and vermouth, but a key difference lies in adding olive brine to the Dirty Martini. This addition gives the Dirty Martini its characteristic cloudy appearance and enhances the cocktail with a savory, salty flavor profile, distinguishing it from the clear and crisp classic Martini. While a Martini is often garnished with a lemon twist or an olive, the Dirty Martini almost always features an olive, complementing the olive brine in the mix. The choice between a Martini and a Dirty Martini often depends on individual taste preferences, with the Dirty Martini catering to those who enjoy a bolder, more robust flavor in their cocktail.

Best Vermouth for a Dirty Martini

Selecting the right vermouth can elevate your Dirty Martini, and while preferences may vary, a quality dry vermouth is key. Dolin Dry Vermouth is a popular choice, known for its lightness and hint of botanicals, adding a subtle layer of complexity to the cocktail. Noilly Prat is another well-regarded option, offering a blend of herbal notes that beautifully complement the savory olive brine. Martini & Rossi, with its crisp and aromatic profile, is also a solid choice, widely available and versatile, for those seeking to craft a well-balanced and refined cocktail. Dolin Dry Vermouth gets my nod. Its delicate flavor profile enhances the cocktail without overwhelming it, harmonizing well with the robustness of the olive brine, the botanicals of the gin, or the neutrality of the vodka.

Are Dirty Martinis better with gin or vodka?

Choosing between gin or vodka for a Dirty Martini boils down to personal preference. Vodka offers a clean, neutral base, letting the olive brine and vermouth flavors shine—brands like Grey Goose and Belvedere are known for their smoothness and purity, making them excellent choices for this cocktail. On the other hand, gin brings a botanical complexity to the mix, adding another layer of flavor to the drink. Bombay Sapphire and Tanqueray are well-known for their balanced and refined flavor profiles, suitable for those who prefer a more aromatic drink. If I pick a favorite, I’d lean towards Bombay Sapphire for its subtle juniper notes and aromatic botanicals, which complement the savory brine beautifully, creating a well-rounded and sophisticated sip.

A Dirty Martini, shot from above, in a coupe glass on a black stone coaster placed on a white marmol table with some olives on the side.

Variations

Curious about additional options? Explore a selection of our favored ones:

  • Dirty Vodka Martini: This selection stands out for its smooth and neutral taste, allowing the olive brine’s flavor to dominate. I appreciate how the vodka’s subtlety lets the brine’s saltiness become the star, creating a harmonious blend.
  • Extra Dirty Martini: This choice intensifies the olive brine for a stronger, more savory kick. The heightened brine flavor appeals to me, as I relish the bold, salty character it imparts, making each sip a robust experience.
  • Dirty Gin Martini: This choice introduces a botanical twist, adding complexity to the savory base. The gin’s herbal notes enhance the drink, creating a multifaceted taste profile that’s both intriguing and satisfying.
  • Dirty Pickle Martini: This one replaces olive brine with pickle brine, adding a sharp vinegar tang and a hint of dill. The unique combination of vinegar and dill offers a refreshing change, bringing an exciting and zesty twist to the palate.
  • Spicy Dirty Martini: This option adds a fiery element, either through hot sauce or a slice of jalapeño. The spice perfectly balances the savory base, creating an exhilarating flavor profile that is both bold and invigorating.
  • Blue Cheese Dirty Martini: This selection features blue cheese-stuffed olives, adding a creamy, tangy element that complements the briny and herbal flavors. I’m particularly drawn to the creamy texture of blue cheese, which melds seamlessly with the salty brine, creating a rich and decadent experience.

History and Origins

The Dirty Martini has a somewhat murky history, with its origin not definitively pinpointed. However, it’s widely believed to have evolved from the classic Martini, a cocktail with roots in the late 19th century. The Martini has several origin stories, and one attributes its creation to bartender Jerry Thomas, who reportedly concocted it for a gold miner in California.

The transformation of the Martini into the Dirty Martini likely occurred when drinkers started to desire something more flavorful and robust. The addition of olive brine to the mix brought a savory, salty dimension to the drink, distinguishing it from its predecessor. This modification gained popularity in the early 20th century, particularly during the Prohibition era, when the quality of gin was often poor, and the brine helped mask its inferior taste.

The drink continued to evolve and gain popularity, with many variations emerging, allowing it to maintain its status as a beloved and sophisticated choice in bars and restaurants worldwide.

A side shot of a Dirty Martini in a coupe glass on a black stone coaster placed on a white marmol table with some cocktail tools behind.

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FAQ

How many calories are in a Dirty Martini?
A standard version has approximately 200 calories, depending on the specific ingredients.
How strong is a Dirty Martini?
It typically has an ABV of around 22%, making it 44-proof, depending on the ratio of ingredients.
What alcohol is used in a Dirty Martini?
Vodka or gin serves as the base alcohol, with the choice depending on personal preference.
In which glass is a Dirty Martini served?
It's traditionally served in a Martini glass.
What does a Dirty Martini taste like?
The cocktail has a savory and slightly salty taste, with herbal notes from the vermouth and a robust flavor from the olive brine.
What is the ratio of ingredients in a Dirty Martini?
The typical ratio is 2:1:1 two ounces of vodka or gin, one bar spoon of dry vermouth, and one bar spoon of olive brine.
How is a Dirty Martini served concerning ice?
The drink is usually served up, meaning it's mixed with ice and then strained into a glass without ice.

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