Noel Coward is quoted as saying, “a perfect martini should be made by filling a glass with gin, then waving it in the general direction of Italy.” So, it’s safe to say Noel Coward would hate a dirty martini. To make a martini dirty, of course, means to mix the cocktail (the more standard version, with gin and dry vermouth) with a hefty glug of green olive brine. Some folks like their martinis very dirty—they should use a full ounce, if not more, of olive brine; others prefer just a splash. Ever-so-slightly floral from the vermouth and satisfyingly briny, in my eyes dirty martinis are significantly more exciting in flavor than Coward’s glass of cold gin.
A model martini is stirred, not shaken (sorry, Mr. Bond!) in a mixing glass, but if you only have a large liquid measuring cup or mason jar that’ll do just fine. Whether you prefer martinis classically “up”—served in a coupe glass—or slightly more mild, on the rocks, it’s imperative to a bar-quality cocktail that you pre-chill the glass. The best way to do this is to fill the cup with ice water the moment before you start mixing your drink, and dump out that water just before pouring the martini from the mixing vessel into the glass. —Rebecca Firkser
2 1/2 ounces
dry gin (or vodka, if you must)
1/2 to 1 ounces
green olive brine
2 to 4
green cocktail olives, pitted if using a cocktail pick
In This Recipe
Fill a coupe (if you like martinis “up”) or rocks glass (if you like martinis on the rocks) with a few cubes of ice and fill with cold water. Set aside.
Fill a mixing glass or liquid measuring cup with a big handful of ice. Pour in the gin, vermouth, and olive brine (use the full ounce, or even a bit more, if you like things really briny). Mix the drink with a bar spoon until the mixing glass becomes very cold, about 30 to 45 seconds.
Dump the ice water from the cocktail glass and plop in the olives. To serve “up,” strain the liquid from the mixing glass into the coupe. To serve on the rocks, fill the rocks glass with a small handful of ice, then strain in the martini. Sip.
Rebecca Firkser is the assigning editor at Food52. She used to wear many hats in the food media world: food writer, editor, assistant food stylist, recipe tester (sometimes in the F52 test kitchen!), recipe developer. These days, you can keep your eye out for her monthly budget recipe column, Nickel & Dine. Rebecca tests all recipes with Diamond Crystal kosher salt. Follow her on Instagram @rebeccafirkser.