Dave’s Dirty Martini Procedure

We are going to shake our martini rather than stirring it. Historically, gin martinis were stirred; other cocktails were shaken. Hence the need for the classic James Bond directive: “Shaken. Not stirred.”


Implements, Martini Glass
Martini Glass

The first thing you need is a martini glass. My martini glasses are rather typical Texas-sized glasses. Filled to the brim, the glass at left holds 300 ml ( 10 ounces) of your favorite beverage. A martini served in a beer mug or a coffee cup just doesn’t taste right. Having an appropriate martini glass is important.

The next key implement is the cocktail shaker.

Implements, Cocktail Shaker
Cocktail Shaker




I use a classic shaker as shown to the right. The cocktail shaker is made of stainless steel. As such it does not chemically interact with the ingredients you mix in it. The cocktail shaker has three components:

  1. The main vessel. The shaker vessel show in the photo to the right holds 360ml (12 ounces) of fluid.
  2. The cover
  3. The cap.

In the photo above, the cap is on the cover. The cover contains a strainer to keep the ice cubes from pouring into your drink.

Nice simple shakers of this type were available from Target this summer.

Implements, Mini-Measure Shot Glass
Mini-Measure Shot Glass

Next you will need a shot glass. The shot glass helps you measure ounces (28 grams) of liquid. If you are an obsessive compulsive type like me, you will like the “Mini Measure” shot glasses like the one shown at the left. These can be ordered on Amazon.com and are available in some grocery stores.

Implements, small glass for ice
Small Glass for Ice





You will need a small glass for measuring ice into the other implements. The size and shape of this glass is not very important. The one shown is a 6 ounce glass.

A dish towel will catch drips and slops
A Dish Towel Is Helpful to Catch Drips and Slops




I generally like to lay down a dish towel on the counter to catch drips and slops from the mixing process. Mixing on a dish towel helps insure that your martini glass does not leave unsightly gooey slop marks when you set it down on a white table-cloth.





Next we consider the ingredients.

Ingredients, high quality gin
High Quality Gin

The first most important ingredient is the gin. There are two main categories of gin:

  1. Dutch Gin – the Dutch apparently invented gin. Recently I have been drinking a bottle of Boomsma Dutch gin as shown to the left in the picture.
  2. English Gin – the British Empire was fueled by gin, especially in malaria-infested colonies where the colonists had to drink large quantities of quinine-containing tonic water to suppress the disease and needed gin to make it palatable. My favorite English-style gin is Bombay Sapphire. I also like Tanqueray, but I continue to sample others as I come across them.

The bottle on the right is some really good stuff which I snuck out of the Asatte Press Research and Development laboratories.

Ingredients, Dry Vermouth
Dry Vermouth

The next key ingredient is the vermouth. It is very important that you get “dry” vermouth and not regular or sweet vermouth. The French and Italians both produce very nice vermouth. In fact, the most popular Italian brand is the Martini brand. Initially I thought that the Italian brand must be the origin of the name of the drink, but the Wikipedia entry suggests otherwise. I happen to like the French Noilly Prat vermouth, although I do sample others from time to time.

Ingredients, High Quality Queen Olives
Ingredients, High Quality Queen Olives

Olives are also a key ingredient in the properly mixed martini. There are those who pursue alternative lifestyles, worship graven images, commune with investment bankers, or believe in gun control who prefer other condiments such as little frou-frou peels of lemon rind with their martini. I prefer the classic Spanish or Greek Queen olive.

My research into the selection of the best brand continues in earnest. I have been trying all kinds; a feta cheese stuffed Greek olive is shown in the photo to the right. Not only have I been experimenting with different brands, I have also been experimenting with different fillings. Nevertheless, I have been unable to find any brand or filling yet that could consistently beat “Divina Stuffed Olive with Red Pepper” (a little hard to get the specific variety online, but major grocery stores should carry them)

Cocktail Toothpicks
Ingredients, Cocktail Toothpick

Toothpicks are very important as well. The goal here is to load the toothpick up with three luscious, world-class, stuffed green olives. Some sliver of flimsy balsa wood from Southeast Asia is not going to do the trick. You need to invest in some high-quality cocktail toothpicks.






Assembly Procedure

Organize all of the implements and ingredients on the counter top.

Fill small glass with ice cubes
Fill Small Glass with Ice Cubes

The sequence of assembly is quite important here. The final goal is not merely to get the chemicals mixed, but also to have the entire assembly and contents at the right temperature: ice-cold.

As such, the first steps involve preparing the martini glass to receive the martini contents. We need to make that martini glass cold in a hurry.

Start by filling the small glass listed above with ice cubes.

Transfer ice to martini glass, fill small glass with ice water
Transfer Ice to Martini Glass; Fill Small Glass with Ice Water

Next transfer the ice cubes to the martini glass and fill the small glass with ice water.

Martini preparation is much easier if you have a refrigerator that has a dispenser for ice cubes and chilled ice water in the door.

Fill glass with water to chill as rapidly as possible
Fill Martini Glass with Water to Chill as Rapidly as Possible



Next transfer the ice water to the martini glass. This approach will rapidly chill the martini glass.

We really want that glass to be nice and cold when the mixed martini is ready.

Skewer 3 olives on toothpick and set aside in water glass
Skewer 3 Olives on a Toothpick and Set Aside in Water Glass





While the martini glass is chilling, we turn our attention to the olives. A high quality cocktail toothpick should be able to hold three queen olives.

Now is a good time to skewer the olives. We would not want everything to fatally warm up at the end while we fumbled helplessly to get the olives in position.

Skewer them now. Set them aside. The empty water glass is a good place to put them.

Pour about 0.5 oz olive juice into shot glass
Pour about 0.5 oz Olive Juice into Shot Glass

Now we can focus our attention on the actual mixing of the martini.

The term “dirty” refers to the practice of mixing a little of the murky water from the jar of olives into the drink. I like my martinis dirty.

Start by pouring about 15ml (~1/2 ounce) of the liquid from the jar of olives into the shot glass.

Add vermouth to olive juice to make 1 oz
Add Vermouth to Olive Juice to Make 1 oz



Next comes the vermouth. A lot of people like “dry” martinis with minimal vermouth. Others demand “extra dry” martinis with even less vermouth. For these people, the bar tender will simply rinse the martini glass with a little vermouth and then pour it out. Finally, there are the people who demand an “ultra dry” martini. For these people, the bar tender shines a bright light on the martini glass and passes the bottle of vermouth between the light and the glass.

I am not one of these vermouth-phobic individuals. Basically, they are simply drinking gin in a fancy glass. I like my martini to have some flavor. As such, I add enough vermouth to the olive juice to make one ounce (29ml).

Fill shaker with ice cubes
Fill Cocktail Shaker with Ice Cubes

Next we fill the cocktail shaker with ice. This step is not that critical. You want to add a sufficient quantity of ice to the cocktail shaker. Fill it loosely to the brim as shown.






Pour Olive Juice and Vermouth into Shaker
Pour olive juice and vermouth into shaker

Next pour the olive juice and vermouth mixture over the ice in the shaker.






Add about 5 oz of gin
Add About 5 oz of Gin

Next add about four ounces (~120ml) of gin.

If you are really thirsty, you should be able to just barely squeeze five ounces (~150ml) of gin into the shaker which will in turn end up just filling the martini glass to the brim.

The first few times you mix a martini, you will probably want to carefully measure out the of gin using a shot glass.

After you get used to your equipment, you can measure this by eyeball. If we look at the picture at the right, by experience I can see that the level of the gin is about 15mm below the rim of the shaker and understand that this is just about the right amount of gin to fill my martini glass.

Shake the Martini Mixer
Shake the Martini Mixer

Place the cap on the cover of the cocktail mixer and place the cover on the body. Give the martini a vigorous shake for a few seconds as shown in the photo to the left.

Set the mixer down (with the cap still in place).





Pour out ice water and place olives in glass
Pour the Ice Water out of the Martini Glass and Insert the Olives
  1. Quickly pour the ice water and ice out of the martini glass.
  2. Place the toothpick of olives in martini the glass.
  3. Shake the cocktail mixer vigorously for another ten seconds.
  4. Remove the cap from the cocktail mixer.
  5. Pour the frothy martini mix into the glass.



Completed martini slighly effervescent
Completed martini slighly effervescent

The resulting martini will be a slightly cloudy olive color. It will be slightly effervescent, bubbling with the air that was mixed into the cocktail by the vigorous shaking.

It will be very cold.

It will be very tasty.

It will contain about the same amount of alcohol as two glasses of wine.

Caution: once you are setup to make these, it is very difficult to drink only one….

4 thoughts on “Dave’s Dirty Martini Procedure

  1. Dave,

    You’re not to far off…although your bizarre take on lemon peel and your insistence on a “dirty” martini leave me a bit queasy.

    Luis Bunuel, the Spanish film-maker and surrealist, has this to say about martinis:

    “”To provoke, or sustain, a reverie in a bar, you have to drink English gin, especially in the form of a martini. To be frank, given the primordial role played in my life by the dry martini, I really think I ought to give it at least a page.

    Like all cocktails, the martini, composed essentially of gin and a few drops of Noilly Prat, seems to have been an American invention. Connoisseurs who like their martinis very dry suggest simply allowing a ray of sunlight to shine through a bottle of Noilly Prat before it hits the bottle of gin.

    At a certain period in America it was said that the making of a dry martini should resemble the Immaculate Conception, for, as Saint Thomas Aquinas once noted, the generative powers of the Holy Ghost pierced the virgin’s hymen ‘like a ray of sunlight through a window – leaving it unbroken.'”

    The rest is here, including his recipe:

    1. Actually, in our forthcoming book: “Systematic Martini Mixing” we have an alternative recipe for a dry vodka Martini that comes close, the Vermouth just swished in the chilled glass. I find both interesting. I also still don’t find the lemon twist appealing, even though we are going to show how to make one.

  2. There is apparently a variation, referred to in that Bunuel link, wherein Pernod is used instead of vermouth.

    I’m wondering about using absinthe in place of Pernod. That should bring out the hallicinatory aspects of the drink.

    Might be worth the experiment.

    1. I was only vaguely aware of Pernod. However, Tomoko had a specialty cocktail at a restaurant recently that had Pernod in it… SO… I went and got a bottle. Obviously another member of the Ouzo/Arak family. At any rate, I looked around on the web a bit and found a recipe that called for 1/4 tsp Pernod, 1/2 ounce Dry Vermouth and 2 Oz of Gin. I used a French Dry Vermouth (not Noilly Prat, a competitor) and Tanqueray gin. It was very nice. An interesting alternative to the Dirty Martini.

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