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This is how to make the perfect dirty martini

Making a flavorful dirty martini is surprisingly easy

Dirty Martini
Johann Trasch/Unsplash

In the pantheon of classic cocktails, there are few more beloved than the Martini. Sure, the Old Fashioned, Margarita, and Manhattan get a lot of love, but only the Martini is the fictional secret agent James Bond’s favorite cocktail.

Although he preferred his shaken, most bartenders will tell you that to make a Martini is better when stirred. The classic Martini is made with gin, vermouth, and an olive or lemon peel garnish. Some drinkers mistakenly believe the cocktail is made with vodka, but that would technically make it a “Vodka Martini” as opposed to a classic Martini.

A murky history

Monkey 47 Gin
Andreas Haslinger/Unsplash

Like many classic cocktails, the Martini has a bit of a muddled or murky history. Some believe it was created at New York’s Knickerbocker Hotel by a bartender aptly named Martini di Arma di Taggia for Billionaire and Standard Oil Company co-founder John D. Rockefeller. However, this is disputed as recipes for the drink were included in Jerry Thomas’ Bartenders’ Guide in the 1860s.

What does a Martini taste like?

Dirty Martini

Unlike some overly complicated, ingredient-filled cocktails, the traditional Martini is fairly simple. With only two ingredients, the main flavor is that of the gin. Herbal, spicy, piney, and whatever herbs and botanicals are infused into it.

The vermouth adds a sweet, fortified wine flavor to the drink. This makes it partly spiced and partly sweet. The addition of a lemon twist adds a citrus element or an olive adds a nice salty, savory note. If salt and brine are what you’re after though, you’d probably prefer the Dirty Martini instead.

The Dirty Martini


If you enjoy a classic gin Martini, that’s all well and good. There’s nothing wrong with paying tribute to (and sipping) the classics. But, if you want to get a little wacky (and briny) with it, you’ll try a Dirty Martini.

Many believe that a New York-based bartender named John O’Conner created the Dirty Martini in 1901 when he decided to not only muddle olives but add olive brine to the drink. The classic recipe consists of gin, vermouth, olive brine, and 3-5 olives. Also, while shaking a classic Martini is a big no-no, it’s encouraged when making a Dirty Martini to meld the various flavors together perfectly.

What you’ll need to make a Dirty Martini

Gordon's Gin


  • 2.5 ounces of London dry gin
  • .5 ounces dry vermouth
  • .5 ounces of olive brine
  • 3-5 olives

The Dirty Martini recipe steps

Dirty Martini

1.) Add gin, vermouth, and olive brine to a shaker filled with ice.
2.) Shake vigorously to combine everything.
3.) Strain everything into a chilled Martini or cocktail glass.
4.) Add a skewer (or simply toss in) 3-5 olives as a garnish.
5.) Drink it slowly and enjoy the herbal, sweet, salty, briny goodness.

If you enjoy classic Martinis, the time is right to try its dirty, murky, salty sibling. Whip one up and you might never go back to the original. Just make sure you have good gin (preferably London dry gin), great dry vermouth, and real olive brine. No need to buy a fancy specialty bottle. Simply crack open a bottle of olives and pour in the juice before you toss the olives in.

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Christopher Osburn
Christopher Osburn is a food and drinks writer located in the Finger Lakes Region of New York. He's been writing professional
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