The Story Behind The Dirty Martini

Either loved or hated, the Dirty Martini is one of cocktail culture’s most polarizing drinks. Cocktail historian David Wondrich believes the concept of a savory Martini was born in New York when bartender John E. O’Connor served a Martini with muddled olives at his bar, the iconic Waldorf Astoria. While the adulterated drink didn’t initially include a dash of brine, that changed sometime between 1901 and 1930, as it appeared as an ingredient for a Martini in G.H. Steele’s “My New Cocktail Book.”

Bartenders have since elevated the concept of a savory Martini with the addition of lacto-fermented garnishes, and other umami-driven flavors that resemble a similar flavor profile to the classic. It is traditionally made with gin, but vodka is preferred by many enthusiasts. It may not suit your fancy, but it has its place in drink culture and is worth trying at least once — when properly executed, it can be an exceptional tipple.


  • 2 ¼ ounces gin (preferably Sipsmith London Dry gin)
  • 1 ounce dry vermouth (preferably Noilly Prat)
  • ¼ ounce olive brine
  • Garnish: 3 pickled olives


  1. Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice.
  2. Stir until chilled and diluted, and strain into a chilled coupe.
  3. Garnish with olives on a cocktail pick.

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Updated: 2022-03-21

The Dirty Martini Recipe