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Dirty Vodka Martini

Are you ready to be shaken and stirred? A classic dirty vodka martini is a timeless cocktail that never fails to impress. Whether it’s for happy hour, a special occasion, or just another night of entertainment at home, the distinctive flavor of this iconic drink never gets old. Not only is it delicious, but its preparation couldn’t be simpler.

Two martini glasses filled with the martini with olives on picks as garnish
Photo Credit: Dishes Delish.

When I last blogged about this dirty vodka martini, it was to re-do one of my first posts. I was celebrating a year of blogging and wanted to show how far I’d come with my photography. Here is the original post.

I knew little about photography and even less about editing photos back then. There is always something to learn, and blogging is a process, but I’m happy with my progress after 8 years. So, if you’re starting out, keep practicing. It will pay off.

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Why did I re-do the post again? Because it’s one of my tried and true cocktails that always is a pleasure to imbibe and I love refreshing the photos.

If you are interested in learning more about vodka. I have a complete guide here. Also, if you want to see what I think should be in every home bar, click here.

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What makes a martini dirty?

Whether you are making a gin martini or a vodka martini, the addition of olive brine or olive juice is what makes it dirty.

What vodka is best for a martini?

Here’s where I draw a hard line. You need to use a top-shelf vodka or at least a mid-level vodka because in a martini, the main ingredient is vodka. If you use a store brand, it will taste harsh because the vodka is less quality. You need at least a mid to premium-level vodka for a smoother and more delicious martini.

What is a good vodka that won’t break the bank?

When you go to a liquor store, you will see the difference in the quality of the vodkas by looking first at the prices and, secondly, where on the shelf the bottles are located.

You will find the cheapest alcohol, in this case, vodka, on the bottom few shelves. As your eye travels up the shelves, you will notice the brands becoming more well-known and more expensive until you reach the top shelf, which houses the most famous and most expensive brands.

But back to answering the question. If you really are budget-conscious, go with the Absolut brand. It’s a solid vodka and won’t be as harsh as other, cheaper vodkas.

If you want a vodka a step above Absolut, go with Ketel One, which is even smoother. And if you want a top shelf vodka, go with either Grey Goose, as I do, or Belvedere.

Vertical view of the smaller glass with the martini with a big olive in it. Regular martini glass in the background
Photo Credit: Dishes Delish.

Can you make a martini without vermouth?

Indeed you can, and I know a lot of people who do. The first time I made this cocktail myself, it was without vermouth.

You could technically call this martini a dry, dirty martini because it calls for so little vermouth. Nowadays, when someone asks me for a dry martini, I will ask if they want any vermouth at all.

A wet martini, on the other hand, is equal amounts or 1:1 ratio of vodka and vermouth, but I’m not fond of the wet martini.

You will see in the recipe, and especially in the photo, how little vermouth I use.  And that amount is for 2 cocktails.  Sometimes, if I want the barest minimum, I pour a tad in the martini glass, swirl it around to wet the sides, and dump the vermouth in the sink.

Helpful tips

  • Use the best vodka you can afford. Vodka is the main ingredient; since you are not adding fruit juice, you can taste it. The better the vodka, the smoother the cocktail. The lower-quality vodkas will be more harsh.
  • Play with the amount of vermouth, as everyone likes different amounts. Try the recipe as is, and if the result is not to your liking, add vermouth in small increments until it’s to your taste.
  • You will also have to play with the amount of brine. Go with a little less than 1/2 ounce per martini and see how you like the taste. Add more if you want it dirtier.
  • I recommend the Pearl brand olives. (The one linked isn’t the exact one I use, but I wanted to show you what the brand’s packaging looks like so you will recognize it in the store.) They are premium and the only green olives I like, and I would never change brands. If I go to a restaurant, I don’t eat the olives because they don’t use my beloved Pearls unless the olive is filled with blue cheese.
  • The Pearl brand olives I use are soaked in vermouth, so I adore using the brine from these olives in my martinis. If you can’t find them in your local store and you are tired of running out of brine before you get to the last olive, buy the Dirty Sue brand of olive brine.  It’s the best-tasting brine out there (other than the brine in Pearl olives.) I get Dirty Sue from Amazon.
  • Martinis are so fun and delicious poured into a glass straight from the freezer. That tends to make the martini stay cold longer. I didn’t use a frozen glass in this post because it would not stay frosted when photographing the cocktail.
  • If you prefer to stir your dirty martini, place the ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir briskly before straining and pouring into the glassware.

Do you love dirty martini’s and want a dip to go with it? Well, my friend Bella has one here.

How to make a vodka dirty martini

Pre-step

Fill the cocktail shaker halfway with ice and get a measuring glass and two martini glasses.

After measuring out the ingredients, pour them into the shaker.

Step one

Gather the ingredients – vodka, olive brine, vermouth and olives. (A)

Step two

Measure 8 ounces of vodka. (B)

Left - vodka, dry vermouth, and brine with glasses on a table. Right - vodka measured out
Photo Credit: Dishes Delish.

Step three

Pour a small amount of dry vermouth in a shot glass. As you can see, it’s a very small amount. (C)

Don’t be tempted to pour it directly into the shaker because you will probably over-pour. And this way, if you over-pour, you can put the vermouth back into the bottle.

Step four

Measure 3/4 ounce of olive brine. (D)

Left - a hand holding a little shot glass with vermouth in it. Right - brine measured out with two olives in the back
Photo Credit: Dishes Delish.

Step five

Cap the shaker and shake vigorously for 30 seconds. I try to get the ice to break up somewhat so little microchips are poured into your glass.

Place the skewer of olives in the glasses and strain the dirty vodka martini between the two glasses.

I adore the first glass, the Nick and Nora glass, but it is slightly smaller than the one in the back, which is a classic martini glass.

Another view of the smaller glass with the martini in front and the classic glass in the background
Photo Credit: Dishes Delish.

Now for the vertical view.

Vertical view of the smaller glass with the martini with a big olive in it. Regular martini glass in the background
Photo Credit: Dishes Delish.

I hope you enjoyed this dirty vodka martini recipe.

What is your favorite way to drink a martini?

And as always, may all your dishes/drinks be delish.

If you’ve tried this recipe, I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments below. I love hearing from you! You can also FOLLOW ME on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM and PINTEREST to see more of my delicious food and delightful cocktails!

Classic glass of the vodka martini - square

Dirty Vodka Martini

Get ready to be blown away by this deliciously dirty vodka martini! Made with vodka, dry vermouth, and olive brine, it has an irresistible flavor that will leave you wanting more.
4.39 from 13 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Cocktail
Cuisine: Cocktails
Keyword: dirty martini, vodka dirty martini, vodka martini
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 2 cocktails
Calories: 229kcal

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces vodka (Grey Goose is a good choice)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry vermouth (play with the amount to see what you prefer)
  • .75 ounces olive brine

Garnish

Instructions

  • Fill your shaker 1/2 way with ice.
  • Add vodka, dry vermouth and brine
    8 ounces vodka, 1/4 teaspoon dry vermouth, .75 ounces olive brine
  • Cap the shaker and shake vigorously for 30 seconds. Shaking vigorously and for as long as you do will break off micro ice chips and will be poured into your glass along with the liquid.
  • Divide and strain between the two martini glasses
  • Spear olives on a pick and add them to the glasses
    2 green olives
  • Sip
  • Smile
  • Enjoy
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Video

Notes

Helpful tips
  • Use the best vodka you can afford. Vodka is the main ingredient and since you are not adding a fruit juice, you will be able to taste it. The better the vodka, the smoother the cocktail. The lower quality vodkas will be more harsh.
  • Play with the amount of vermouth as everyone likes different amounts. Try the recipe as is and if the result is not to your liking, add vermouth in small increments until it’s to your taste.
  • You will also have to play with the amount of brine. Go with a little less than 1/2 ounce per martini and see how you like the taste. Add more if you want it dirtier.
  • I recommend the Pearl brand olives. (The one linked isn’t the exact ones I use but I wanted to show you what the brand’s packaging looks like, so you will recognize it in the store.) They are premium olives and the only green olives I like and I would never change brands. If I go to a restaurant, I don’t eat the olives because they don’t use my beloved Pearls, unless of course, the olive is filled with blue cheese.
  • The Pearl brand olives I use are soaked in vermouth, so I adore using the brine from these olives in my martinis. If you can’t find them in your local store and you are tired of running out of brine before you get to the last olive, buy the Dirty Sue brand of olive brine. It’s the best tasting brine out there (other than the brine in Pearl olives). I get Dirty Sue from Amazon.
  • Martinis are so fun and delicious poured into a glass that comes straight from the freezer. That tends to make the martini stay cold longer. I didn’t use a frozen glass in this post because the glass would not stay frosted in the time it takes for me to photograph the cocktail.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cocktail | Calories: 229kcal | Sodium: 372mg
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Published originally in September of 2016.

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From lighting up stages with her BA in theater to food journalist, Elaine Benoit's journey is a testament to passion's transformative power. As the CEO of Dishes Delish, she offers a blend of healthy, comforting recipes and exquisitely crafted cocktails. Beyond the kitchen, Elaine voiced her culinary adventures on her podcast, "Dishing," and co-owns Food Blogger Help, extending her expertise to guide budding food bloggers to success. Whether it's for a heartwarming dish or insights into food blogging, Elaine's diverse experiences make her a beacon in the culinary digital landscape.

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29 Comments

  1. I have to say the one time I had a dirty martini I didn’t like it, but I really love olives. I’m going to give it another shot with your recipe! Love the photos by the way.

    1. Thank you so much Urvashee. Hopefully, you’ll like it. I find that the culprit is the vermouth. People put too much in.

  2. This is such a classic drink – EVERYONE (who takes their drink seriously) should know how to make! I didn’t. Now I do! I love the shots you took for this one! I kinda really want a drink now tho!

  3. Your photos are wonderful! I am almost ashamed to say, I have never had a martini before! I want to give this a try very soon. It always makes me think of James Bond 🙂 I love the idea and twist of the dirty martini.

    1. Thanks Alexandra. Don’t feel ashamed, most of the people that I know can’t make a martini. But it’s a fun and classic cocktail and you’ll feel cool when you succeed!

  4. Thanks so much for sharing your martini wisdom . I just now made a dirty martini following your recipe- it is delish !!!!! I bought a better vodka than usual and you are right about the vermouth, a little goes a LONG way ! Cheers !

  5. Very nice write-up and some great tips and photos. However, I think you made a typo in Step 3 where you said use sweet vermouth.

    1. Oh my goodness! I just fixed it. Thanks so much Robert for catching that. No one else did, including my husband and myself. Cheers!

  6. It is my understanding that 2 olives is unlucky, no matter the size. I put 3 and sometimes 4 for extra good luck. It has worked so far after many many years.

    1. Interesting. I’ve heard about other superstitions but I’ve never heard of that one. 🙂 The olives I use in my martinis are so good that I end up having more than two. I’ll have to give that some thought. Cheers.

    1. They can be made with either vodka or gin. I think the original martini was a gin martini and it morphed over time, Dirk.

  7. Take it from a “Dirty Martini” aficionado, Use Tito’s Vodka (Has won all the awards over higher priced ones) made in the USA. Then use an olive from Goya (small piece of anchovy stuffed inside) and use the brine they are in instead of vermouth. Now either up or on the rocks (my way) to the perfect Martini. Enjoy

    1. Ooo. I need to find that olive, Steve. And I’ve had Tito’s and although I like it. I love Grey Goose. 🙂

  8. Love the measurements and the bit about vermouth-it’s spot on! I prefer Tito’s over Grey Goose, but that’s a personal preference. Also, always shaken, never stirred-and one or three olives, never two or four. My preferred olive, while expensive, are the pitted Losado Spanish. Cheers!

    1. Thanks, Cindy. When I read your comment, I thought that you enjoyed the cocktail. So, I’m just curious on why only two stars. I get it on the olives, I like two for some reason. Now I have to look for the Losado! Thank you for your comment.

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