What is a Dirty Martini?

Why Is It Called a Dirty Martini?

Perhaps you’ve ordered a martini in the past or perhaps you’ve only glanced at them on bar menus, but regardless of what your history with dirty martinis is, it can be interesting to find out why exactly they are called what they are. 

So, why is it called a dirty martini?

What is a Dirty Martini?

A dirty martini is a variation on the classic drink, the martini. Martinis are made with gin and dry vermouth, which makes it a very clean, dry, and aromatic drink. Because it only utilizes clear liquors, the drink itself is as see-through as the glass it comes in.

The dirty martini, by contrast, is cloudy. Where does this cloudiness come from? Traditionally, this opaque coloring comes from a splash of olive juice. This tiny addition makes a huge impact on flavor. Basically, it “dirties” your drink because it disrupts the otherwise clean flavors. 

Where Did the Dirty Martini Come From?

One rather famous United States president is frequently credited with popularizing the dirty martini–Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The story goes that FDR was rather fond of making cocktails. In fact, he even hosted his own cocktail hour at the White House or whatever location he happened to be visiting. These cocktail hours were called “The Children’s Hour” after the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem, and they were intimate gatherings of the President’s inner circle. 

FDR even had his own recipe for a dirty martini. While he often kept it simple, FDR also occasionally added a drop of absinthe for flavor or adjusted the ratio of ingredients. He was reported to have loved martinis best of all, despite having a taste for all cocktails. (Source)

Ingredients of a Dirty Martini

The best way to get a delicious martini is to make it yourself with fresh olive brine but that can land you with more jars of dry olives than you bargained for. Instead, you can opt to have it made for you at a great bar or buy a pre-made martini mix to ensure the right flavor. Also, make sure to shop around for your garnish. There are plenty of gourmet olive options on the market, including ones with blue cheese, garlic, or even jalapeños. Other things you can do to enhance your dirty martini’s flavor:

  • Stick to gin instead of vodka as it balances the olive brine much better
  • Start with a little olive brine and work your way up
  • Leave out the vermouth–some brines already have it, and it can sour the flavor
  • Shake, don’t stir, to incorporate the flavors properly
  • Lean into the olives–don’t be afraid to add as many as you want

The Best Bar in Miami, Orlando, and New Orleans

SHOTS Bar is not only a place to enjoy a great ambiance with friends, but it is also a great place to enjoy a delicious drink–maybe one you’ve never tried before. The next time you’re craving a dirty martini, or are ready to try one for the first time, visit the best bar in Miami, Orlando, and New Orleans and get one that will leave you wanting more.