Olives in cocktails

Olives & Serving ‘Dirty’. Why?

Because you, or someone you are making drinks for likes olives, that’s about it really, let’s not overthink it!


Olives are usually limited to Martinis and maybe the odd Bloody Mary / Red Snapper (a Bloody Mary made with Gin…give it a try!).

For the sake of ease, and the fact that it’s the most common habitat for an olive in a cocktail, we’re just going to be talking about olives in Martinis, and the key guidelines are pretty simple:

  • Don’t buy olives in oil. Seems achingly obvious, but you would be surprised!

  • Buy delicious olives, good enough to eat. Do you really want to spend the money on booze, and the time on making a cocktail, to then ruin it with bad olives?! No, you do not! 

  • Before serving, give the olive(s) a good rinse in fresh water then gently dry with a clean cloth.

    Here are our top tips to allow for maximum personalisation:

  • Making a Martini for someone else? Then serve olives on the side, not in the drink itself. This way, the drinker can choose whether or not to add them to their drink.

  • Use whole olives. Pitted ones will infuse straight into the drink due to the massive hole in the middle.

  • For the same reason don’t impale olives on a cocktail stick. Serve it on the side so that the olives can be skewered by the drinker to release flavours, if they choose to.

  • Stuffed olives have a bad reputation, however, if you keep the quality high, then go for it! Best served on the side to avoid a cloudy Martini, and why not try making your own?

Dirty Martinis

If someone asks you for a Dirty Martini, or you want to try one for yourself, you will need to find out or decide just how dirty this Martini needs to be. There is no single ‘correct’ recipe for any Martini (unless you are making a specific variant). There are, however, degrees of how ‘Dirty’ your Martini can be, from just a little bit dirty to filthy! 

A little Dirty

Which simply means adding an olive to a Martini straight from the jar without rinsing the brine off it.


A teaspoon or two of brine is about the standard level expected when requesting or making a “Dirty Martini”.


Anything more than 3 teaspoons of brine, can be classed as fully filthy!

Off the scale

You can even muddle then shake olives into a Martini for the full olive hit, which really is off the scale! This gives you a very cloudy Martini that will need to be finely strained.

The brine is added to the other ingredients, then stirred down with ice, as you would when making a standard Dry Martini. This ensures that the brine doesn’t upset the dilution and balance of the drink by adding brine after stirring. You don’t want an unbalanced Martini!

Try making these

How much juice can you squeeze from a lemon?!

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