The Best Ways to Get Your Dirty Martini Dirty

I will always love the dirty martini. This was my gateway to the wild and wonderful world of gin, and I love any excuse to drink pickle. In the end, the key to making a classic dirty martini is to allow the brine to replace – rather than add – some of the vermouth so as not to over-dilute the gin.

The ratio of 2-1 / 4 ounce gin, 0.5 ounce brine and 1/4 ounce vermouth makes a beautifully salty gin, but even the flawless classic drink can be refreshed from time to time. Here are four ways to thin your cocktail a little if you ever need to get out of this very specific rut.

Turn off the brine

I have shouted about pickletini for many years, and many people have shouted back at me. Some of those screams were hurtful, but I remain steadfast in my adherence to this salty sour cocktail. Using brine brine instead of olive brine adds acidity to your drink, giving it flavor.

Standard neon green dill pickle works pretty well, as does Trader Joe’s gherkin pickle or any other liquid that doubles as a pickle pickle. I am also quite partial to pickled green tomato pickle, caper pickle, pickled onion pickle (for a dirty Gibson), and pickled ginger pickle . I say that just about any pickle will do.

Rinse the glass with tape

Salt and smoke go very well together, especially if you add some savory olives. It’s okay to smoke a compartment with a little wood, but you can achieve the same flavor profile with just a tablespoon of peat whiskey .

Pour a spoonful into a (chilled) compartment or martini glass, stir a little, then pour (maybe in your mouth so you don’t waste it). Make your dirty martini as usual and then strain it into a whiskey-flavored jar. Garnish with olive oil stuffed with blue cheese or almonds.

Make It Messy With MSG

Bartenders hate this weird tip. I’m not just saying that. The last time I wrote about this martini, the bartender invited me to his “bar” so I could “taste” what a “real” martini tasted like. (I refused and told him to leave me alone.)

You only need a tiny pinch of MSG to greatly boost the umami levels of a dirty martini – just remember to dissolve it in the gin before adding the ice. (MSG is soluble in water, but not as soluble as table salt; cold temperatures will only slow it down.)

Season with pepper

Pepper is the best friend of salt (they literally travel the table together), and add a couple of chunks of hot pepper to your salty drink. Don’t trust me on this? This is fine. (I’m being a bit disingenuous.) But you should trust Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli to spice up his Seriously Dirty Martini with a few servings of fresh black pepper. However, I recommend branching out according to the color of the pepper. A pink pepper martini would be incredible.


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