A Wicked-Good Cocktail and a Reminder to Reclaim Brine as an Ingredient in Its Own Right

October 30, 2016

Tomorrow, as we all know, is Halloween. And this year, there’s no reason to let kids have all the fun—you deserve a treat, too.

Mix up a cocktail with a so-called scrap hiding in plain sight in your refrigerator: olive juice. Yes, you guessed it, we’re making dirty martinis, and you should probably mix up a batch tonight to practice, so you’ll have it down pat for tomorrow, lest you risk being flustered by a non-stop ringing doorbell or a misguided costume choice (tip: save the clown costume for another year).

This is an ingredient, not a scrap. Photo by James Ransom

While you’re enjoying your beverage, vow to start thinking of brine as an ingredient in its own right, not just for cocktails or as a whiskey chaser, but as a powerful multi-tasker, capable of brightening up potato salads and marinating meat.

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As Creative Director Kristen Miglore once gently admonished us: “Maybe nobody told you that tossing pickle brine is just like tipping a perfectly good bottle of vinegar or fish sauce or Worcestershire down the drain.” (And yes, that applies to olive brine, too.)

Here's lookin' at you. Photo by Mark Weinberg

Thecrabbycook twists the classic by making it a dirty vodka martini, as well as by adding a healthier dose of dry vermouth than you might expect. The combination works, and had our fearless leaders, Amanda & Merrill, saying it "goes down smooth and strong, just how we like 'em."

Plus, she's added a dose of Halloween fun—naming it the Wicked Witch Martini and suggesting that each one be garnished with a (fake!) eyeball. Give it a try: With or without the eyeball, it's a spooky good cocktail.

Tell us: Where do you like to use brine? Are you partial to pickle, olive, or another?

Know of a great recipe hiding in the Food52 archives that uses an overlooked kitchen scrap (anything from commonly discarded produce parts to stale bread to bones and more)? Tell me about it in the comments: I want to know how you're turning what would otherwise be trash into a dish to treasure!

P.S. The comments of this recipe got a bit lively on the topic of gin versus vodka martinis. We think there’s room for both, and are fond of Frederico_’s little poem on the topic:

Some say to make a great martini
Only gin will do it,
And if you mix yours up with vodka
You will live to rue it.

Others, though, like vodka best
to blend with vermouth in their 'tini
Make them both, then ask your guest
to choose between them, "eeny meeny..."

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

I like esoteric facts about vegetables. Author of the IACP Award-nominated cookbook, Cooking with Scraps.