DrinkWire is Liquor.com's showcase for the best articles, recipe and reviews from the web's top writers and bloggers. In this post, The Opinionated Alchemist finds an interesting ingredient and uses it to make a not-so-dirty Dirty Martini.


Folks, I have to admit that I am not the biggest fan of Dirty Martinis. The usual combination of vodka and olive brine seems odd, and its appearance reminds me more of dirty dishwater than a good drink.

Olive brine itself isn't really that bad. Even commercial olives just contain water, salt, vinegar or lactic acid.
The issue is that olive brine doesn't taste that great.

Happily, I discovered an Iranian shop with a lot of unique products; they are particularly strong in flower waters, which is another name for hydrosols. Hydrosols are the byproduct of the steam-distilling process used to create essential oils. At the end of distillation, the craftsperson is left with very little essential oil but quite a lot of water, on top which the essential oil floats. This water has strong aromas of the distilled ingredients. The most common hydrosols in the culinary world are rosewater and orange blossom water.

In this shop, I also found olive-leaf water. I had to take it home, and when I tasted it, I was quite impressed. The liquid has a faint resemblance to olives, but is far more herbal and complex, and basically not at all fruity (as olives can be).

When I tried this hydrosol in a Martini, I found that there was something essential missing: Salt. Olive brine contains a lot of salt, and a sprinkle added to my Martini just provided the right characteristic for a Dirty version.

I found though that gin remained quite dominant; you could taste the herbaceous tang of the olive-leaf water, but it was a bit too subdued. On the other hand, vodka also doesn't do the drink justice. So my final recipe calls for 1 part gin, 3 parts of vodka, and a rinse of Noilly Prat dry vermouth, which lends only a hint of fruity sweetness.

There is only one problem: the Dirty Martini doesn't look dirty anymore, but there are worse problems in this world.

The Best Dirty Martini
30 ml Vodka (any "clean" modern/neutral quality vodka will do)
10 ml Plymouth Navy Strength gin
10 ml olive-leaf hydrosol (available in Persian and Middle Eastern markets, or online)
10 ml Noilly Prat

Fill a mixing glass with ice cubes. Add Noilly Prat and strain it directly into a chilled cocktail glass.

Add the vodka, gin and olive-leaf hydrosol over the scented ice and stir for at least 20 seconds.

Discard ice and Noilly Prat from the cocktail glass. Strain the cocktail into the cocktail glass.

Garnish with 2 green unpitted olives (Castelvetrano or Gordal). Optionally, mist some Noilly Prat and olive leaf hydrosol over the cocktail.