Though a traditional Dirty Martini is made with gin, vodka may actually be the more historically accurate base spirit. As the story goes, when Franklin D. Roosevelt sat down with Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin at the 1945 Yalta Conference, he confessed that he was feeling a bit hungover. Stalin recommended he drink a curative mix of vodka and pickle brine, but, alas, none could be found. Churchill offered up the next best thing—gin and olive brine, which he had in his possession—and history was made. Were Stalin to have carried around his own personal stash of vodka as Churchill did gin, though, the O.G. Dirty Martini would have been a much different, gin-free cocktail. Without any of gin’s juniper-heavy flavors, the Dirty Vodka Martini is all about that salty, funky brine. So make sure to use the good stuff rather than the jar that’s been sitting in your fridge since you moved in.
Dirty Vodka Martini
Mix it Up
While the brine from a jar of supermarket-bought Martini olives will give you the most traditional, familiar flavors, feel free to shake things up every now and then by using the brine from more artisanal types of olives like Castelvetrano, Cerignola or even Niçoise. The flavor of the brine will completely change the flavor of the cocktail, and you may find that you like it even better.
If you want to add even more oomf to your Dirty Vodka Martini, add a few dashes of Tabasco, or, if you’re looking for an even brinier brine and happen to have a few oysters around, add some oyster liquor to the cocktail.
Not everyone is a fan of gin’s heavy botanical flavors—and that’s fine. There’s no shame in loving a Vodka Martini, no matter what the haters might say. The original Gin Martini was invented sometime in the early 20th century, though where exactly it was created is still up for debate (some say at the Occidental Hotel in San Franc...