Dirty Martini Recipes: The Traditional and Filthy Variations

Dirty martini

Traditional martinis are exceptionally clean drinks because they only contain clear spirits, but a dirty martini recipe strays from this pristine look. That's because brine (traditionally olive brine) is added to the gin and vermouth for additional flavor, aromatics, and a cloudy appearance.

How to Make a Dirty Martini

The classic dirty martini recipe contains dry gin, dry vermouth, and olive brine or juice along with an olive garnish. While a classic martini is always stirred and never shaken, the addition of olive brine requires shaking in a cocktail shaker with ice in order to incorporate the juice/brine with the spirits.

Ingredients

  • ½ ounce dry vermouth
  • ½ ounce olive brine
  • 2 ounces London dry gin
  • Ice
  • Spanish olives

Instructions

  1. Chill a martini glass.
  2. In a cocktail shaker, combine the vermouth, olive juice, and gin.
  3. Add the ice and shake to chill.
  4. Strain into the chilled martini glass and garnish with olives.
Dirty martini

The Best Dirty Martini Ingredients

The ingredients in a dirty martini are simple, but the flavor and aromatics profiles of some brands lend themselves better to a dirty martini than others.

Dirty Martini Gin - Drumshanbo Irish Gunpowder Gin

Gin doesn't just come with one aromatic profile. In fact, craft distillers use all types of botanicals in their gins, which altars both the aromas and the flavors of the final product. However, one important factor for any gin used in a dirty martini is that it is a dry gin. For a dirty martini, however, you'll want a gin with aromatics that blend well with the taste of the olive brine. The Drumshanbo Irish gunpowder gin has notes of juniper, lemons, and coriander that blend beautifully with olive brine. Alternatively, try Roku gin, a lightly floral Japanese gin with the spicy bite of pepper, zippy citrus notes, and a nose of tea and juniper.

Dry Vermouth for a Dirty Martini - Carpano Bianco Dry Vermouth

This is a bianco vermouth, which is a dry vermouth with just a hint of sweetness added; not so much that it becomes a sweet vermouth, but not bone dry, either. This hint of sweetness brings balance to the olive brine in a dirty martini while its citrus notes and aromatics work well with the profile of the Drumshanbo gunpowder gin for a beautifully balanced and aromatic dirty martini. Alternatively, you can use Noilly Prat extra-dry vermouth, which has an aromatic profile that works well in a dirty martini for people who prefer an extremely dry martini.

Dirty Martini Olive Juice - Dirty Sue Premium Olive Brine Juice

The Dirty Sue olive brine is developed specifically for the dirty martini, so it's no surprise it works so well in this cocktail. It uses premium olives and the perfect amount of salt to bring a balanced salinity to your martini.

Olive Garnish for a Dirty Martini - Dirty Sue Blue Cheese Stuffed Olives

The classic garnish for dirty martinis are either unstuffed Spanish olives or blue cheese stuffed olives, although you may see other garnishes such as a lemon twist. Blue cheese stuffed olives add a spicy, sharp bite to the end of the martini as well as hitting your nose with blue cheese aromatics as you sip. Dirty Sue makes some of the best blue cheese stuffed olives around. If you're not a blue cheese fan, you can try Dirty Sue's feta stuffed olives, a pimento stuffed Spanish olive, or simply add your favorite pitted Spanish olive.

Ingredient Ratios for a Dirty Martini

For such a simple cocktail with so few ingredients, you'd think the formula for the perfect dirty martini would be obvious, but that's simply not the case. Most martini aficionados are quite specific about how much of each ingredient they like in their drinks, and the variations are vast.

  • For some, a martini or dirty martini is best when extremely dry, so much so that it contains virtually no vermouth (either none at all, or just a simple rinse of the glass with the vermouth before emptying it out and adding the gin and olive juice).
  • Others prefer a wet martini, which can have as much as equal amounts of the ingredients in a 1:1:1 ratio.
  • It's likely your taste falls somewhere in the middle along this spectrum; fiddle with ingredient proportions and find your perfect balance.
  • A good starting point is to use equal parts dry vermouth and brine to four parts vodka or gin, but it's just a guideline.

Ultimate Dirty Martini Recipe

This ultimate dirty martini uses specific branded ingredients to create a dry, aromatic martini with the tang of olive brine.

Instructions

  1. Chill a martini glass.
  2. In a cocktail shaker, combine the vermouth, olive brine, and gin.
  3. Add ice and shake to chill.
  4. Strain into the chilled martini glass.
  5. Garnish with the blue cheese stuffed olives.
Ultimate Dry Martini

Dirty Martini Recipe Without Vermouth

For some people, vermouth just gets in the way of a good martini. In fact, Winston Churchill was famously known for enjoying his martinis sans vermouth, so essentially straight gin. Therefore if you want a more gin-ful experience, then drop the vermouth with this easy dirty martini recipe.

Ingredients

  • ½ ounce olive brine
  • 2½ ounces dry gin
  • Ice
  • 3 Spanish olives for garnish

Instructions

  1. Chill a cocktail glass.
  2. In a cocktail shaker, combine the olive brine and gin.
  3. Add ice and shake to chill.
  4. Strain into the chilled glass and garnish with the olives.
Dirty Martini Recipe Without Vermouth

Vodka Dirty Martini Recipe

A vodka dirty martini is made in much the same way as a gin dirty martini; the main difference is in the spirit used.

Ingredients

  • ½ ounce olive brine
  • ½ ounce dry vermouth
  • 2 ounces premium vodka
  • Ice
  • 3 Spanish olives for garnish

Instructions

  1. Chill a martini glass.
  2. In a cocktail shaker, combine the olive brine, vermouth, and vodka.
  3. Add the ice and shake to chill.
  4. Strain into the chilled martini glass and garnish with the olives.

Best Vodka for a Dirty Martini

Choose a premium vodka for your dirty martini. Some good choices include:

Variations on the Dirty Martini Recipe

Once you have your formula down for the dirty martini, you can use the proportions you like best to create one of these dirty martini variations. If you like a different ratio of gin:brine:vermouth (1:1:4) than called for in these recipes, then adapt it according to your own tastes.

Pickle Dirty Martini

Pickle juice adds a nice vinegary bite to your dirty martini. Use a dill pickle juice, or mix it up with garlic dill pickle brine or spicy dill pickle brine.

Ingredients

  • ½ ounce dill pickle brine
  • ½ ounce dry vermouth
  • 2 ounces dry gin or vodka
  • Ice
  • Cornichon or cucumber slice for garnish

Instructions

  1. Chill a martini glass.
  2. In a cocktail shaker, combine the pickle brine, dry vermouth, and gin or vodka.
  3. Add ice and shake to chill.
  4. Strain into the chilled glass. Garnish with the cornichon or cucumber slice.
Pickle Dirty Martini

Pepperoncini Dirty Martini

Try this as a zippy alternative to a dirty martini.

Ingredients

  • ½ ounce pepperoncini brine
  • ½ ounce dry vermouth
  • 2 ounces dry gin or vodka
  • Ice
  • Green olives or a pepperoncini for garnish

Instructions

  1. Chill a martini glass.
  2. In a cocktail shaker, combine the pepperoncini brine, dry vermouth, and gin or vodka.
  3. Add ice and shake to chill.
  4. Strain into the chilled glass. Garnish with the olives and/or pepperoncini.
Pepperoncini Dirty Martini

Jalapeño Dirty Martini

Looking to bring on the heat? Try this tasty blanco tequila variation of a dirty martini.

Ingredients

  • ½ ounce pickled jalapeño brine
  • ½ ounce dry vermouth
  • 2 ounces blanco tequila
  • Ice
  • Pickled or fresh jalapeño for garnish

Instructions

  1. Chill a martini glass.
  2. In a cocktail shaker, combine the jalapeño brine, dry vermouth, and blanco tequila.
  3. Add ice and shake to chill.
  4. Strain into the chilled glass. Garnish with the jalapeño.
Jalapeño Dirty Martini

Dirty Gibson

A gibson is a simple twist on a martini; it is essentially a martini garnished with a cocktail onion instead of olives. This dirty gibson adds a dash of the brine from the cocktail onions.

Ingredients

  • ½ ounce cocktail onion brine
  • ½ ounce dry vermouth
  • 2 ounces dry gin or vodka
  • Ice
  • Cocktail onions for garnish.

Instructions

  1. Chill a martini glass.
  2. In a cocktail shaker, combine the cocktail onion brine, dry vermouth, and gin or vodka.
  3. Add ice and shake to chill.
  4. Strain into the chilled glass. Garnish with the cocktail onions.
Dirty Gibson

Get Down and Dirty Martini Style

If there's a drink that deserves your special touch, it's the dirty martini. So, don't shy away from a bit of experimentation. Use your preferred ratios along with interesting brines or pickling liquids to create your very own version.

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Dirty Martini Recipes: The Traditional and Filthy Variations