Drink of The Week: Dirty Martini

The exact origin of the Dirty Martini is unknown, but like all martinis it quickly grew in popularity after Ian Flemming published the James Bond book, Casino Royal, in 1953.

I was first introduced to the drink in Sun Valley, Idaho, back in 1996, I believe, when a girlfriend, Tyra Karlson, ordered up a couple of those in the Casino, an SV institution where locals hung out and searched for trouble.

The thing tasted so good I had another, but that’s when I felt my head starting to go. So I switched to something lighter; a friend accompanying us didn’t—he never said no to Tyra’s offerings and by the end of the night he was a trainwreck. Which wasn’t good because this guy had elk fever worse than anyone I’d ever seen. And, we were scheduled to leave at 5 a.m., drive two hours, and trudge up a wicked mountain where the elk hang out.

I’m a bad drinking partner because I wouldn’t let a hangover get in the way of hunting; I shook my friend awake the next day and said, “Just get in the vehicle. You can sleep on the way.” At about the hour forty-five mark, what do you know, a herd of elk decided to cross the road right in front of us. It’s almost daylight. We could have just sat in the truck, waited for shooting light and then followed tracks to the two raghorn bulls we saw in the group. Meat for the winter.

But, when I shouted, “Wake up, look! Elk,” my friend opened one eye, spotted those beasts in the headlights, said, “Yep,” and promptly went back to sleep. Once we reached our hunting grounds I got out and hiked up a mountain; he threw up next to the vehicle then got back in and slept all day. When I got back at dark he said, “That girl is dangerous.”

I share that story with you as a warning—these drinks are good and they go down the hatch easy. Which may be why the Dirty Martini is also a favorite drink for those who remedy a hangover with more of the same. Not for me these days, boys, but you might try it and like it. Michelle Obama, I’ve read, typically orders Dirty Martinis (made with Stolichnaya) for she and her boy before dinner. I doubt she subscribes to the morning remedy.

Ok, you can make a Dirty Martini with vodka or gin, but using vodka might be the best option. You can chill that vodka nicely in a shaker with ice, olive brine, and a little dry vermouth. Pour it in a chilled glass and you’re good to go. You can also concoct this thing and pour it over ice cubes in a non-traditional martini glass.

Ingredients are key. You can’t just pour the olive juice out of a jar in the refrigerator because it’s mostly made of vinegar. Instead, you’ll need to invest in a pure olive juice, such as Dirty Sue’s or Saucy Mama’s. You should think of premium olive juice as saltwater—go easy on it. For a clean Dirty Martini you can use pitted Mazanilla martini olives.

 Here’s the recipe and method. Hope you enjoy one of these today for a Friday lunch.

1 oz. pure olive brine

6 oz. Stolichnaya

1 tbsp. dry vermouth


3 or 4 pitted olives

Making it:

Pour vodka, dry vermouth and olive brine into shaker. Add ice. Shake well.

Rub the rim of a martini glass with a wedge of lemon.

Strain and pour contents of shaker into a martini glass.

Place the olives in the martini before serving

Take a big, big sip.

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11 Responses to Drink of The Week: Dirty Martini

  1. Gish says:

    With blue cheese olives makes them even better!! My favorite drink for sure!! It’s almost noon on the west coast. I say a dirty martini is in order…

    • Greg Thomas says:

      You’d be in trouble if I were there. I wrote that post at eight this morning and I’ve had trouble keeping my mind focussed since that time. Blue cheese. Yum. Martinis. Yum. Make it a three-martini lunch young lady, and celebrate the weekend.

  2. Todd says:

    Happy Friday Greg, This is a great drink with extra “sneak up on you” capabilities. User beware. Save yourself a step and try to find Tipsy Olives. These are olives preserved in vermouth. Use the brine for both vermouth and olive juice. Dirty done quick.

    Great blog by the way.


    • Greg Thomas says:

      Thanks for the tip. That sounds like something I’ll try. I tell you, writing these drink of the weeks doesn’t do much for abstinence. Is it five-o-clock yet? Does it matter. Thanks again for the kind words.

  3. GeeRam says:

    Manhattan > Martini

  4. D-sum says:

    I’m posting more as a wondering if we will see more drinks of the week in the future. I’m thinking a dirty martini might be pretty good right now, but, that Sierra Nevada Rye IPA was pretty good….Drinks of the week need to come back strong.

  5. Michael in Seattle says:

    Using vodka instead of gin technically makes it a kangaroo, not a Martini. Although purists will scoff further, I’ll go with vodka Martin or even vodka-tini. But a Martini’s base liquor is always, always, always gin.

  6. Clemdiggittydog says:

    My dad used to drink dirty martini’s after work. I can’t officially say when I tried my first. Pretty sure D-Sum was exposed to them before he was legal. Love the site!

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