There are all kinds of cocktails out there and all kinds of cocktail drinkers. Everybody has their preferences on which way to go: salty, earthy, sweet, tart, or just plain challenging. Go around the room in a bar — you’ll find factions of highball hustlers, Margarita mavens, and Bloody Mary boosters.
But nothing will get passions rising the way Martinis do. People can get really snobby about these particular adult beverages. Folks take sides claiming to be the true “purists.” vodka lovers will lean heavily into their corner. But then gin enthusiasts will tell you that juniper-laced liquor is the only way to Martini.
Is there a unifying Martini? Probably not, but if there was one candidate that we might say is the most divisive, it could be the salaciously named Dirty Martini drink. Fans swear by it, and the haters gonna hate.
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Getting the Dirty Martini Right
One thing is for sure. If you’re going to call yourself serious about drinking, you need to try a decent Dirty Martini recipe at least once.
So what is it? Basically, it’s a Martini with a little olive juice in it, but we’ll get into the exact recipe later. Whether that simple description makes your mouth water or not is a first step towards getting to know its enigmatic flavor.
Different palates can go different ways with the Dirty Martini. But there is no denying that it is one of the single most requested Martinis in the alcohol scene — and probably the most famous. Ready to learn about the fascinating history behind this lip-smacking concoction? Here are some Dirty Martini facts you will find easy to swallow!
Before the Dirty
While we are here to talk about the Dirty Martini cocktail, we need to start at its true beginning, the Martini itself. As is the case with many alcoholic elixirs, nobody can quite say for sure when and where the Martini was born. But there are several cool stories on the matter.
According to one tale, America’s classic cocktail may have had its beginnings in Martinez, Mexico. Supposedly, a gold miner struck it rich in the 1800s, wanted to celebrate, and there was nothing in the bar but the ingredients that make a Martini. The drink would be named after the city.
A similar story starts in San Francisco, only this time it was a miner on his way to Martinez. And yet another moves it to New York City, where a bartender created the drink with Martini & Rossi vermouth — hence the name. But how did we get to a Dirty Martini cocktail?
Martini, Olive Ya!
Ok, so now we get to the Dirty Martini’s origins, and things get a little more interesting. It seems that a bartender in New York City’s famous Waldorf Astoria named John E. O’Connor first served a Martini with mixed olives. And by 1931, it appears in an official bartender’s guide.
As you’re going to see, the drink evolved from that initial basic mixology, moving well beyond the simple muddling of the fruit from the olive tree. In fact, there are olive-infused vodkas in the modern age, bringing the original idea up to date with modern flavoring methods. But sticking to basics, here’s how you make one yourself.
Dirty Martini Recipe
Ok, here we go! As with many cocktails, the Dirty Martini drink enjoys a myriad of variations, and you can feel free to experiment all day long with it. But here’s the bonafide “classic” version to start with.
NOTE: choosing whether you want to go with vodka or gin will make a huge difference in the final product. So you may want to try out both!
- Prep Time 2 Minutes
- Cook Time 1 Minutes
- Total Time 3 Minutes
- Serves 1 People
- Calories 161 kcal
- 2 ½ ounces vodka or gin
- ½ ounce dry vermouth
- ½ ounce olive brine
- 2 to 4 olives for garnish
- Combine all the ingredients into a mixing glass with ice (shaved, if possible).
- Stir — do not shake! — until the drink is chilled and diluted.
- Gently and carefully strain into a chilled Martini glass (aka, a coupe).
- Garnish with 2-4 olives on a toothpick or cocktail pick.
Clean Facts about the Dirty Martini
There are a couple of famous figures from history who we can associate with the Dirty Martini drink. One of them is fictional, as is the story behind his relationship to this drink. But the other one was quite real and may just surprise you.
James Bond is famously known to simply love his vodka Martinis. But lots of folks have misappropriated his exact preference to the Dirty Martini. This would be wrong — he prefers another variant called Vesper. Folks have simply confused it with the dirty.
In real life, none other than President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was known to be a serious Dirty Martini drinker! He even indulged in them during important summits during WWII! So if it was good enough for FDR, it’s good enough for you!