Dirty Martini With Black Olive Brine & Black Olives | The Nibble Webzine Of Food Adventures - The Nibble Webzine Of Food Adventures Dirty Martini With Black Olive Brine & Black Olives | The Nibble Webzine Of Food Adventures
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COCKTAIL RECIPE: Dirty Martini With Black Pepper & Black Olives

Today, a sonata on the Dirty Martini, offering a different interpretation for its fans.

Dirty Martinis are typically made with green olive brine and a green olive garnish.

This twist on the Dirty Martini recipe below is black olive brine and black olives.

For a touch of heat, it infuses the vodka with black peppercorns and adds a ground black pepper rim.

The idea and recipe are from Lindsay Olives.

Why infuse the vodka. Can’t you buy it?

You can buy “pepper”-infused vodka like Absolut Peppar, but the commercial products are infused with hot chili peppers, a different flavor,

Here, you get to infuse your own plain vodka with black peppercorns. It’s as easy as tossing cracked peppercorns into a bottle of vodka, and letting it sit for seven days (you can get away with less infusion time).

Food 101: Chile peppers are not related to black peppercorns. Here’s the difference.

Their names have been confused since Columbus landed in the West Indies. One of his crew tasted a hot chile and called it “pepper,” relating the heat to the black pepper known in Europe.

The confusion engendered three terms: chili peppers vs. peppers vs. chiles.

And how about chile vs. chili vs, chilli? Here’s the scoop.


Infuse the vodka in advance (step 1 below). Just as with plain vodka, the pepper vodka will keep indefinitely.

As with the salt rim on a Margarita, if you want less pepper, only coat half the rim.

For a gathering, you can prepare the Martinis in advance by making them in a pitcher and rimming the glasses. Prepare olive picks, or just add one or two olives before pouring the drink.

For The Pepper Vodka

  • 1 bottle (750ml) vodka
  • 2 tablespoons peppercorns, slightly cracked (see below)
    Per Drink

  • 2½ ounces black pepper-infused vodka
  • ½ ounce dry vermouth
  • ½ ounce black olive brine
  • ½ tablespoon ground black pepper
  • Lemon wedge
  • Ice cubes
  • Garnish: single black olive or a pick of olives

    1. MAKE the black pepper-infused vodka: Add the cracked peppercorns to the bottle of vodka. Place in a cool dark place for 7 days, gently shaking every 2 or 3 days. If you don’t have 7 days, you can infuse for as long as you have (at least 1 day); but it will be less peppery.

    2. REMOVE the solids by straining the vodka through a fine mesh strainer into a clean* container. Discard the peppercorns and use a funnel to add the pepper vodka to the original vodka bottle.

    3. PREPARE the ground pepper rim for a coupe or Martini glass. Place the pepper in a small dish or saucer and run the lemon wedge along the rim (or half rim). Dip the rim into the pepper and twist to coat. Set aside.

    4. COMBINE the vodka, olive brine and vermouth in a mixing glass with ice. Stir until chilled and strain into the glass. Garnish as desired and serve.

    The whole peppercorns need to be cracked slightly to release the piperine in the seed (piperine is the organic compound that provides the pungency).

    Yes, peppercorns are a fruit, a drupe. The tiny red fruits grow on a vine; the peppercorn is the seed of the fruit. Here’s a photo: You can buy a plant and grow peppercorns at home.

    Cracked is different from crushed, the latter of which are large pieces than ground pepper. Essentially, the cracked peppercorn remains whole, with an opening from the crack.

    To crack peppercorns:

    1. PLACE the peppercorns in a mound in the center of a cutting board.

    2. PLACE a large pot or a second cutting board on top of the peppercorns, and press firmly for 10 seconds. Then check; if the peppercorns don’t have cracks, try again.


    A traditional Dirty Martini is made of gin, vermouth, a small amount of olive brine and an olive garnish.

    The olive brine clouds what is a clear drink, and makes the Martini look “dirty.”


    [1] The black olive, black pepper Dirty Martini. The recipe is below (photo and recipe © Lindsay).

    [2] Aren’t these peppercorns beautiful? They’re top-quality Tellicherry black peppercorns, available from Silk Road Spices. Tellicherry peppercorns are left on the vine longer, which produces berries with bolder, more robust flavor. They have a bright, almost citrusy taste that make them really stand out as something special, and are the preferred black peppercorn of many fine chefs.

    [3] Lindsay sells organic and conventional olives, in cans, mixes and in grab-and-go snack packs. Check out all the varieties here (photo © Lindsay Olives).

    [5] A conventional Dirty Martini: green olives and brine. These green olives are stuffed with blue cheese (photo © Ruth’s Chris Steak House).

    [4] Blue-cheese-stuffed olives are a popular garnishe for the classic Dirty Martini. Here’s the easy recipe from Martha Stewart (photo © Martha Stewart Living).

    According to David Wondrich, cocktail historian and author, Dirty Martini’s history begins in 1901, when John E. O’Connor served a Martini with muddled olives at the Waldorf Astoria.

    However, using olive brine doesn’t appear in the written record until 1930. The drink, called the Perfect, consisted of half gin, half vodka, dry vermouth, three types of bitters and one teaspoon of olive brine.

    The Perfect dropped out of sight until after World War II, transforming into a Martini recipe requiring two parts gin, one part vermouth and a teaspoon of olive brine [source]. That’s our modern Dirty Martini.

    But where did it go? We hadn’t heard of it until about 20 years ago, when a colleague ordered it at a bar. We, an olive lover, ordered one of our own.

    The garnish, then and still, is blue cheese-stuffed olives. Some like it hot, and opt for jalapeño-stuffed olives.

    Don’t like blue cheese or chiles? Classic pimento-stuffed olives do just fine.

    Here’s the history of the original Martini.


    *To avoid any contamination, we rinse the transfer container twice boiling water.


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