A Dirty Martini, with olives in the glass against a sunset background.

Blogs & Inspiration

Bar Skills: How To Make A Perfect Dirty Martini

Distinguished from the Dry Martini by the addition of olive brine, or in some cases, the addition of muddled olives, a Dirty Martini also has all the options of the original – shaken or stirred, olive or twist, vodka or gin, and the best glass to use? The opportunities are endless, but which reigns supreme?

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes 

The Dirty Martini’s roots lead back to the bar of New York’s Waldorf Astoria in 1901, when bartender John. E O’Connor added a muddled olive to a Dry Martini.  

More than a century later, debates remain on the proper way to create this cocktail, and being familiar with the different variations will help you navigate the murky waters of this iconic variation. 

Those who are prefer Dirty Martinis generally know how they like it served. If they don’t specify while they’re ordering, it’s worth asking to find out 

Their preference, after the obvious ‘vodka or gin’? will often be dictated by the amount of olive brine added. 


It’s best to stay on the side of caution if you’re unsure of how your guest enjoys their Dirty Martini. Start small and add one bar spoon or brine, as you can always add another but you can’t take it away. 

An early lesson for many in the cocktail bar scene is to ask any guest who orders a Dirty Martini whether they’d like it Dirty, Filthy or Disgusting! It may seem a bit odd to ask a guest if they like their drink disgusting, but it translates into how they like their drink to be prepared. One spoon of brine for ‘Dirty’, two spoons of brine for ‘Filthy’ or two muddled olives for ‘Disgusting’. The ‘Disgusting’ option is often a very popular choice! 


It’s obvious that adding muddling olives that were previously been stored in brine into a translucent cocktail will create a bit of a mess. If you’d like to maintain a Martini’s presentation, it’s wise to strain the remains of the muddled olives out of the cocktail before serving. The guest will still get their olive garnish to snack on and the cocktail itself will be infinitely more attractive without the mess in the base of the glass. 

Guests who've opted for added olive brine might also prefer that you hold back on your ratio of vermouth when serving a Dirty Martini. 

Although the most common reply will be “as dry as you can make it” when asking a guest how they like their drink, it’s always worth asking 

We often used to use the “in-out” method: starting with a mixing glass full of ice, pour over a splash (10ml or so) of dry vermouth, stir to coat the ice cubes and then strain off before using the vermouth coated ice cubes to mix your Martini. 


The word “premiumisation” has become a buzzword in the industry, with an increased number of guests looking to treat themselves and explore luxury spirits while they’re sipping on cocktails. 

For guests who choose a cocktail where a spirit makes up most of the total volume of the drink, it’s very likely they’ll care more about the quality of the spirit used. There’s a real opportunity to trade your guests up to higher value spirits and offer them something super premium.  

To have success here, it’s important to know the different premium spirit options in your range. For example, a premium spirit such as Tanqueray No.10 will offer a better experience as well as enhancing the profit for your bar. 


  • There is endless debate on the exact way to craft Dirty Martinis which leaves room for experimentation. 
  • It’s worth asking your customer how they prefer their drink, to avoid a wasted cocktail. 
  • Olive brine is a delicate balance – don't use too much brine and be sure to use a fine strainer. 
  • Upsell! Upsell! Upsell! The spirit is the focus of a Dirty Martini meaning people will prefer a premium spirit as a base. 

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