This is part of my Third Friday Cocktails series. Find cocktail recipes, drink mixing techniques and lore right here on the 3rd Friday of the month.
Dirty Vodka Martini Recipe

The classic dirty vodka martini is my husband’s go-to mixed cocktail. He has gotten the mixing of them down to a science, so I made him divulge his secrets.

Cocktail Tools You’ll Need

Dirty Vodka Martini Ingredients

  • Ice
  • 2.5 oz Vodka
  • a small splash of extra dry vermouth
  • .5 oz olive brine
  • olives (I go with blue cheese stuffed olives or queen olives)


This is an incredibly basic cocktail, but that doesn’t mean there’s no knack to the mix. So much so that I made my husband tell me his process, since his dirty martinis are better than mine, even with the same ingredients and basic process.

Start by  filling your shaker 2/3 of the way up with midsize ice cubes.  Add 6 ounces or so of vodka, an ounce (at most) of dry vermouth, and an ounce (at least) of olive brine to the shaker,  then give it a good stir for about 20 seconds.

Skewer 2 or 3 olives on your garnish pick, add it to the chilled cocktail glass, then pour your ice-cold martini over the garnish. Sit back and enjoy.


I like my martinis ice cold.  For that reason, I store the vodka in the freezer.  That keeps my drink cold longer and it also keeps the vodka from melting the ice too quickly and making a more watery drink.  While there should be a little bit of water from melted ice in this cocktail,  I find it doesn’t take much to open the drink up. Keep in mind, you’ll get some additional dilution via your chilled vermouth and olive brine.

I also pre-chill my martini glass, and since I don’t eat my olives right away, I will skewer them and chill them with it.  If they get a little frozen, that’s great since it keeps the drink cold longer. By the time I am ready to eat them, they are thawed.

Keep your olive brine and your dry vermouth in the fridge. Vermouth oxidizes quickly if stored at room temperature.

You can use queen olives with the standard issue pimento as garnish or olives stuffed with garlic, almonds or blue cheese. A single cocktail onion is also a delightful addition.

Shaken or Stirred?

Which is right? At the end of the day, it comes down to personal preference.  Cocktail makers are all over the place on this so you will need to decide what is right for you.  I prefer stirred for most cocktails, unless they have citrus, egg whites or other pulpy ingredients.  A shaken martini will have small shards of ice, which some people enjoy.  I find that the ice melting changes the flavor of my drink and waters it down too quickly.  A shaken martini will also be cloudier and since I think there’s something lovely about a crystal clear cocktail, I stick to stirred.

Do You  Serve a Martini on the Rocks?

No. Ok, I’m just kidding. Sort of.  If you like your cocktail on ice, serve it that way because a cocktail is meant to be enjoyed. I prefer most of my spirit heavy cocktails up/neat and if you’ve never tried your martini up, I would suggest you do so and see what you think. It will taste stiffer, initially, but you’ll also taste much more of the subtle notes of your spirits. If you can’t quite get to drinking it without ice, try just one or two cubes and see if that mellows and chills things enough for you. But the only wrong way to serve a cocktail is the way you don’t enjoy.