Ah, the martini…tasty drink inside an impractical glass. I have always been one to subscribe to the idea that martini glasses are there to keep you in check. If you spill it, you should stop drinking it. You may think you look classy holding it, but once you spill it due to over-consumption, you look like a moron. A good rule is that martinis are like breasts, two is enough.
The dirty martini has been around since man could jar an olive. It is not that complicated of a recipe to make, but the ingredients hold the key to the perfect combo. We tested vodkas, blue cheeses and olive juices. We also tried portions and minor adjustments, and we found the following discoveries.
As many of you may know, all vodkas are not created equal. Most are surprised to find that only a handful of vodkas are made from potatoes. Most are made from grains. I tested my favorite vodka, Chopin. It is potato based, gluten free, smooth to taste but very expensive (around 35$ a bottle). For the same price, we tried Boyd & Blair and boyfriend NinJay said it was undrinkable as it was odd tasting. Those tests were poured down the drain. Since you are mixing it with olive brine, it really isn’t worth cutting it with an expensive vodka. Why not try a less expensive potato vodka? I enlisted my two favorite dirty martini ninjas, NinJill and NinJose after I had the recipe portions completed. These two ninjas are the connoisseurs of the “dirty”. Beforehand, I had them do a separate blind taste test on three vodkas, Luksusowa (potato vodka), Cîroc (French grape vodka) and Grey Goose (grain vodka) They both chose Luksusowa as their favorite and commented that it was the smoothest. The Cîroc was their second favorite. Both nearly spit out the Grey Goose and said it was horrible. I tried later and decided Grey Goose was mostly undesirable straight because it had a very strong alcohol effervescence. The grape vodka was good but the potato was much smoother and half the price of both the other vodkas. The winner was clearly Luksusowa. If I had money to burn, it would be Chopin as it is also tasty and labeled gluten-free.
OLIVE BRINE (WE LOVE DIRTY SUE. SEE OUR UPDATE BELOW)
Anyone who has made a dirty knows that the olives in a jar outweigh the brine (the juice in the jar). You end up with a big jar of olives with no liquid, and if you don’t eat them in a timely manner they will mold. If you ate all the olives, your eyes would swell shut and you could get hurt. So, I thought I would try and buy some olive brine products at the liquor store. The Tom Collins brine looked pretty cloudy and I didn’t want to change the look esthetically, so I tried the Stirrings brand instead. If you just use this on its own, it isn’t salty enough. Instead, buy the product and after you use up the olive liquid in the jar, replace it with the new olive brine. Stick it back in the fridge for additional “infusion”. If you must use both, then 1/2 and 1/2 does the trick. I buy the larger queen olives as there is more brine in the jar. Keep in mind, you need 2-3 shots of olive liquid per drink so this method could save you a lot in olive costs. Jalapeno stuffed olives is also a good addition but I would only use one jigger of the brine and the other regular. Kalamata olive brine is super-amazing, it just tasted different. It was equally as delish. It makes the martini a beautiful pinkish color. Stuffing kalamata olives is not as easy but tastes incredible.
Most liquor stores sell olives with no pimientos in them. However, it is more expensive and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out how to get the red bits out. You can stuff an olive with a few things other than pimiento…blue cheese, almonds, garlic or jalapenos. If you are vegan or lactose intollerant, blue cheese may not be your thing, so try one of the other options.
If you like blue cheese stuffed olives, then I recommend stuffing your own. I am not sure what is in the canned jar types, but it looks like some wild tofu. As blue cheese will disintegrate in a liquid, it is obvious why they don’t use normal blue cheese. I suggest getting a good quality blue cheese and not use the cheap crumbles. The stronger the better. It is easier to form from a brick cheese that is semi soft or from high quality crumbles that you can tell will roll well. I used Amish blue in one batch and Maytag in another. Both were amazing. I find it is best to roll the blue cheese in little turd shapes then wash your hands. With one hand hold the olive, and the other stuff in the little nugget and smash them in. If you are really neat about it, you can then take a damp paper towel and wipe around the edges to shine them up. You may want to put them in the refrigerator until you are ready to shake. Label the container with a sign that will deter others from eating them, such as “livers” as both times I have put them in the fridge, half are gone due to raids. Make extras. If you can get a premium jalapeno stuffed olive, either mix them in on the toothpick or replace the blue cheese ones for an alternative. DO NOT USE OLIVES FROM OLIVE BARS. They are packed in oil and will make your martini look like an oil spill. You only do that once.
This product was always very intriguing to me. After researching the recipes I found that one bottle of this will last you the rest of your life unless you spill/break it. This bottle is gigantic and you use about a 1/8 of a teaspoon per drink. Some don’t even really like the taste of vermouth. I would say if you don’t have this already then you may get kicked out of the Mad Men club, but you can safely bet most people will not even notice. It sort of tastes like olive brine to me. The vermouth is added into the glass and swirled around and dumped out. Some mixologists spray it with a spritzer on the surface. I think this is all part of the romance of it so if you are going to use it, you can show off with a spritzer.
Things you will need for cocktails for two:
- A good Martini Shaker
- 1 oz Jigger
- 2 Martini Glasses
- Olive Brine
- Stuffed Olives
- Vermouth (Optional)
- Hot Sauce (Optional for a hot and dirty)
- Excited person to get a treat (Optional)
GLASSES: You can either put the glasses in your freezer if you have room or fill them with ice and a little water to quick chill. (see above photo)
VODKA: If you can store your vodka in the freezer it just makes the martinis colder.
DIRECTIONS: Depending if you want a dirty or extra dirty, add the contents from the recipes below into a martini shaker filled half-way with ice. Right before serving, empty out the water from the glass (into other glasses if you are serving additional friends) and then pour a splash of vermouth into one glass. Swirl around and pour it into another. Dump out the rest into the sink. Crazily shake that shaker until you have FROST on the top of the lid/sides…up and down, side to side for about 1 minute or so. This is cool and exciting science for those watching or listening. Shake it in front of your friend as it seems impressive and helps with anticipation (even if you have to travel into the next room with the shaker). When you pour it into the glass, it should have a little sparkle fizz that lasts but a moment. NinJay always loves to see “the pour”. He says the combo of the shaker with the fizz that comes out “is the end of a long day and the beginning of a good night.“
4 jiggers of potato vodka
1 jiggers of olive brine
Garnish with 3 olives
EXTRA DIRTY MARTINI:
3 jiggers of potato vodka
2 jiggers of olive brine
Garnish with 3 olives
HOT & DIRTY: Add three dashes of hot sauce into the glass or on the olives.
We found an amazing product for olive brine…Dirty Sue! Thanks to them for sending us samples. We have cleared one bottle and are on to the next. They sell them on their web site at www.dirtysue.com in 2 jars at a time. It seems you can use it in our other recipe for Bloody Mary’s too! Seriously, this was just as good as fresh brine out a jar. I have served this up to a few folks and they love it too.