If you’re not the type to sip seasonal cocktails with apple, cinnamon, cranberry or pumpkin flavors, here’s a tip to seasonalize that American classic, the Martini*.
Recently we read an interview with a fashionable mixologist. Asked, among other things, of his pet peeves, he said, “I sell cocktails, I don’t sell garnishes. Everyone who orders a Martini keeps asking for more olives. We should make ‘dish of olives’ an bar menu item.”
Voilà, our tip of the day: Serve Martinis with a side dish of olives—ideally, a vibrant mix of different colors and shapes.
We adapted Sable & Rosenfeld’s Blue Martini, garnished with its blue-cheese-stuffed olives (photo #1), with red or reddish† olives, for a red-and-green holiday theme.
There is one really red olive, and other options in the purplish range.
Red† Cerignola olive: from Italy, a jumbo olive with mild, buttery flesh.
Gaeta olive from Italy, popular in recipes
Kalamata olive from Greece, a meaty olive
Niçoise olive from France, pleasantly bitter with nutty undertones
Other purplish varieties you may encounter are the Alfonso, Amfissa, Nyon. But essentially: Head to the nearest olive bar and buy the reddest olives.
COCKTAIL RECIPE: HOLIDAY MARTINI
Ingredients Per Drink
2½ ounces gin or vodka
½ ounce dry vermouth
1 rosemary sprig
3 regular-size olives or 1 Red Cerignola olive
A small dish of olives in mixed colors and sizes
1. PRE-CHILL the glass.
2. PREPARE the garnish. Strip the leaves from bottom 2 inches of the rosemary sprig and skewer three small olives onto it, or one large Red Cerignola olive.
TIP: Some kitchen scissors have a leaf stripper in the center for herbs. We use this one from Esschert.
2. FILL a cocktail shaker with ice cubes. Add the alcohol and ice; shake and strain into the glass.
3. GARNISH and serve with a side of olives.
If your guests don’t polish off all the olives with their cocktails, you can toss them into the salad or serve them with the cheese plate!
*Check out the history of the Martini.
†The color of an olive is an indication of its ripeness. Green olives ripen and become black olives in shades from black to purple-black and brown-black. As the olive ripens, it produces colors in-between: light brown, purple and reddish. In general, the darker the olive, the riper it was when picked. As they mature, some varieties may be red for a day or two. But what nature doesn’t provide, man will: Red Cerignola olives are actually dyed bright red with an FDA-approved colorant (red #3) and a patented process to provide festive color. La Bella di Cerignola is the formal name for the olives grown in the area of the town of Cerignola in Puglia, Italy.
Sable & Rosenfeld).  What Martini drinkers want: a side dish of olives (photo courtesy Pompeian | Facebook).  The reddest olive available is the jumbo Red Cerignola, shown with the Green Cerignola (photo courtesy DeLallo).  Strip leaves of of herb stems using the center part of this Esschert herb scissors.