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The Dirty Martini

There is something remarkable about a cocktail that can hold its place at the top in spite of so many other intricate drinks that have trended over the years.

dirty martini cocktail with bottles of ingredients in the background

First introduced on the bar scene in the mid-1800s, the Dirty Martini continues to bring a sophisticated flair to anyone who is seen enjoying one.

This drink is quite easy to make at home and is sure to satisfy any salt cravings, with a garnish that will tide you over until dinner is ready.


You might think that it would be easy to trace the Martini back to its origins, but as is the case with many drinks dating back to the 1800s, evidence is conflicting.

dirty martini and ingredients

As one story tells, it was made especially for a miner who had wanted to celebrate his good fortune after finding gold in a town called Martinez. Others credit Jerry Thomas, “the father of American mixology”, who served them for travelers on their way to Martinez from San Francisco.

Another account that has stuck is that the drink was born from the actual brand Martini and Rossi, which was the vermouth used in the original recipe, and something that the guest would call for when ordering a “martini and gin”.

They all make for good stories, and there is no denying that no matter how this drink came into being, it represents American cocktail culture like no other.

Making it Dirty

The dirty version came into being in the early 1900s, created by New York bartender John O’Conner. It was made by muddling an olive into the drink before adding the brine.


It was decades before this salty sipper took off, but after rumors of President FDR serving them in the White House, they started to catch on.

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Gin started taking the backseat when vodka became popular in the 1970s, and these days most people expect their Martini to be served with the less botanical, smoother spirit.

No matter what your preference, olive juice does it justice. The bonus is the olive to snack on, and with so many variations of olives, such as blue cheese, almond, or jalapeño stuffed, ordering your cocktail “dirty” never gets boring.

How to Make It

dirty martini cocktail with bottles of ingredients in the background

Dirty Martini

Yield: 1
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

This dirty martini drink recipe is quite easy to make at home and is sure to satisfy any salt cravings, with a garnish that will tide you over until dinner is ready.


  • 2 1/2 oz gin or vodka
  • 1/2 oz dry vermouth
  • 1/2 oz olive juice
  • Olives for garnish


    1. Combine gin or vodka, dry vermouth, and olive juice in an ice-filled mixing glass.
    2. Stir continuously until chilled. Strain into a cold cocktail glass.
    3. Skewer the olives and add to the drink.

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The Dirty Martini is a variation itself on the classic gin martini.

Gin vs Vodka

The original martini and dirty martini was made with gin, but in the 1970s vodka became the spirit of choice for this cocktail.

Today, you can choose between gin or vodka in a dirty martini. Gin brings a more botanical flavor, while vodka is a bit more neutral.

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Some people swear by the classic gin martini, while others prefer vodka!

The Classic

The original Martini was a bit different from the ones that are sipped on today.

Gin, the preferred base spirit, was combined with sweet vermouth until dry vermouth stepped in and took over.

The ratio of vermouth to gin was 50:50, and a few drops of orange bitters were added to enhance the flavor.

The original recipe would be unrecognizable to anyone looking for their usual dry Martini in a bar today.

The Martini Glass

The name that started it all has evolved to include anything served in a triangular cocktail glass.

In order to accommodate drinkers who want to sip their afternoon libations “straight-up” sans the boozy taste, bartenders became inspired to start adding tini to all types of concoctions, whether fruity, botanical, or caffeinated.

The adaptation with olive juice is very popular today, but it took a while to become a crowd-pleaser.


What makes it a dirty martini?

What makes a martini “dirty” is the addition of olive brine. Some people order their martini “extra dirty”, which means they want extra olive juice!

Which vermouth for a dirty martini?

Use dry vermouth for a dirty martini. Dry vermouth is usually clear, compared to sweet vermouth which is typically red. Use any quality dry vermouth for a delicious dirty martini.

How do you order a dirty martini at a bar?

To order a dirty martini at a bar, ask for a dirty martini and specify whether you want gin or vodka! You can also ask for a specific brand if you have a preference.

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You can also ask for the dirty martini to be extra dirty, or ask for it to be dry if you want less vermouth.

The Dirty Martini
Please drink responsibly, be fully accountable with your alcohol consumption, and show others respect.

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