A martini is a classic drink, but there are several variations that you can take on even the purest, simplest martini recipe. A dirty martini is made with olive brine, but you can also sip on one that’s extra dirty, meaning there’s even more of that salty, briny olive juice you love.
It’s time to get out your cocktail shaker, along with your favorite vodka or gin, and come explore the cocktail world of extra dirty martinis.
What Makes a Martini Extra Dirty?
If you’re curious about the different types of martinis, it’s time to talk dirty. Your standard martini is vodka or gin with dry vermouth, although you can get crazy and go for sweet vermouth instead. A dirty martini invites some depth of flavor to a classic martini with the addition of olive juice or olive brine.
You can get dirty with your martini, or you can get extra dirty, meaning there’s more olive juice or brine added for a more intense olive flavor. Some martini connoisseurs simply “eye” the splash or pour of olive brine that goes into their martini, but there’s actually a formula or recipe that every great mixologist should know.
By bartender’s terms, an extra dirty martini is made with the standard pour of a high-quality vodka or gin and then equal parts of olive brine and dry vermouth. You can enjoy an extra dirty martini shaken or stirred, and they’re always garnished with olives unless you request otherwise.
The Difference Between a Dirty, Extra Dirty, and Filthy Martini
In the world of martinis, it’s not uncommon to want yours prepared in a very specific way. Whether you’re out and enjoying one served to you or preparing cocktails at home, everyone has a certain balance of ingredients that they think is just right. Dirty martinis have a saltier taste than a traditional martini, but that’s balanced by a bit of sweetness that the olive brine also leaves behind.
You might have heard this style of martini referred to as dirty, extra dirty, or even filthy. Before you order one of these for yourself, it’s important to know that they’re not all the same. These three styles of martinis have the common components of gin or vodka, dry vermouth, and olive juice, but the ratios of each are completely different.
For your average dirty martini, you prepare a standard martini recipe with usually just a splash of olive juice. The dry vermouth is still the dominating flavor, with the taste of olive brine in the background.
With an extra dirty martini, you’re adding more olive brine, typically in an equally balanced ratio with the dry vermouth. The vermouth flavor and the olive brine’s salty sweetness add equally dynamic flavor layers to the martini.
A filthy martini takes the love of olive flavor in your martini to the highest level. With filthy martinis, the amount of olive brine surpasses the amount of dry vermouth, making the olive flavor the primary front taste. Depending on how it’s prepared, a filthy martini might have a small amount of dry vermouth or none at all. If you prefer no dry vermouth, it’s best to ask for an extra dry or bone dry, filthy martini to convey that you’re really just all about the olive juice.
Getting Dirty – Making the Perfect Extra Dirty Martini
To make a wonderful extra dirty martini, all you need is your favorite gin or vodka, dry vermouth, olive brine…and, of course, a few olives to garnish it with.
Preparing Your Martini Glass
Some people like to chill their martini glass a little before pouring the martini into it. If you want an extra chilled glass, add a heaping scoop of ice and top it with just a tad bit of soda water. The carbonation that comes from the soda water accelerates the process. Leave your glass to chill while preparing the martinis, then dump the ice right before pouring the cocktail.
If you have a little extra time, you can also place the martini glass in the freezer for at least 30 minutes, but keep in mind that the stem of the glass will also be well chilled with this method.
It’s also completely fine if you don’t chill your martini glass at all. There are no rules here! Enjoy it your way.
Choosing Gin or Vodka
The choice between gin or vodka is the big debate among martini drinkers. Vodka definitely has more mellow flavors, while gin is bright with botanicals. At the end of the day, it all comes down to personal preference, and they both go great with a little olive brine.
Whether it’s gin or vodka that you choose, what’s really important is quality. Cheap vodka and gin have a harsher flavor profile with fewer nuances in taste. In a cocktail like a dirty or regular martini, the quality of liquor used is really important for the best taste.
This isn’t to say you have to use the absolute top tier, but you should choose the best vodka or gin you can afford. A high-quality upper-mid range vodka like Grey Goose or a gin like Bombay Sapphire are good, reasonably affordable choices.
Shaken or Stirred
A cocktail shaker is a necessary tool when making any type of martini. You could pour the ingredients directly into the glass, but a cocktail shaker really helps to blend together the flavors and produce a nice, smooth drink.
To make your dirty martini, add a scoop of ice to your cocktail shaker, followed by 1.5 to 2.5 ounces of gin or vodka, depending on how strong of a martini you prefer. Next, add in ½ ounce dry vermouth and ½ ounce olive brine or juice. Now, it’s time for the big question – shaken or stirred?
If you’re the James Bond type, you’re going to prefer shaken, not stirred, but in reality, both types of extra dirty martinis are delicious. To stir your martini, you can either take a cocktail stirrer and swirl it around in the shaker or swirl the shaker gently in your hands. Add a strainer and pour into the martini glass. The preference for a stirred martini is usually that the ice doesn’t dilute the flavors of the martini as much as a shaken version.
To make a shaken extra dirty martini, add a cap to your shaker and shake the martini vigorously two or three times. Add a strainer and then pour directly into the martini glass. The preference for a shaken extra dirty martini is that it’s more chilled but also that the flavors tend to mellow a bit so that the martini doesn’t have as much of a “bite.”
Of course, you can also just pour the ingredients for an extra dirty martini recipe strength into a cocktail glass with ice if your preference is to enjoy your cocktails on the rocks, but this is a less traditional way of enjoying a martini.
Garnishing an Extra Dirty Martini
So, you’ve made this great dirty martini, and it looks beautiful in its glass, but what do you garnish it with? The obvious answer here is olives; usually, one to three green olives on a cocktail pick is the standard garnish. You definitely want green olives here and not black because you’re looking for that salty, briny flavor.
Green olives are traditionally stuffed with pimentos, but you can find them stuffed with other goodies, like blue cheese, garlic, or jalapeno. Each would work well as an olive garnish and add a little fun flavor to your martini. If you’re serving extra dirty martinis to your guests, leave out a small plate with a few extra olives for guests to add to their drinks or nibble on.
What’s important to remember about cocktail recipes is that they’re only good if you really enjoy the result. It’s also perfectly fine to stray away from the olive garnish if your preferences lean toward something else. Pickled onion adds a nice touch and unique flavor to the dirtiest martini. Others might prefer a lemon twist to brighten up the popular drink.
Perfecting Your Extra Dirty Martini Recipe
One thing to remember is that the perfect martini is the one that you enjoy. Go for an extra dirty dry martini and use less vermouth, go filthy and use more brine, or balance it all for a smooth flavor. Cheers to enjoying your dirty martini exactly how you like it.