For those who like things hot and spicy, here’s a variation on the Dirty Martini: Add black pepper heat!

You get the salty brine from the olives, and heat from the pepper.

You can purchase pepper-infused vodka like Absolut Peppar (photo #2), or infuse plain vodka with peppercorns (instructions below).

(Pepper vodka is also great in Bloody Marys.)

The olives in the photo are Lindsay Small Organic Olives, but if your crowd likes to pile on the heat, look for chile-stuffed olives (there are plenty on Amazon).

Stuffed olives tend to be green olives; but use black olives

Ready to spice things up?

Ingredients For 1 Drink

  • 2½ ounces black pepper-infused vodka
  • ½ ounce black olive brine
  • ½ ounce dry vermouth
  • ½ tablespoon ground black pepper
  • Lemon slice
  • Garnish: olives of choice
    To Infuse Your Own Pepper Vodka

  • 1/8 teaspoon lightly crushed black peppercorns
  • 1 cup vodka (to infuse your own vodka)

    1. INFUSE the vodka. Place the vodia and the crushed peppercorns in an airtight container and seal. (Or, make an entire 750ml bottle’s worth with 2 tablespoons of peppercorns.)


    [1] A pepper-infused Dirty Martini (photo and recipe © Lindsay Olives).

    [2] Absolut Peppar vodka, infused with black pepper (photo © Absolut).

    2. ALLOW the vodka to infuse for 1-3 days for optimal taste (if infusing a full bottle, allow 7 days). For a shortcut, allow to infuse for 6-12 hours. Strain the solids from the vodka and store indefinitely.

    3. MAKE the martini: Start by rimming a coupe or martini glass. Place the ground pepper in a small dish, run lemon wedge along edge of the glass, then dip the glass into the pepper and twist to rim. Set aside.

    4. COMBINE the remaining ingredients (except garnish) In a mixing glass with ice, add vodka, olive brine, and vermouth, and stir until chilled. Strain into prepped glass and garnish with an olive.


    While the Dirty Martini may seem to have arisen in the last 20 years, it actually is much older.

    There are at least two claims, one from the East Coast and one from the West Coast; and both stories may be true.

    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 Dirty 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.

    We found a more fanciful story on Leaf TV.

    The story credits Jerry Thomas, a famous 19th century bartender and author of the 1862 volume, The Bartenders Guide, as the inventor of Martinis, and subsequently the Dirty Martini.

    Thomas worked at the Occidental Hotel in San Francisco. One day, he was supposedly asked to mix up “something special” by a prospector who was about to journey to Martinez, California.

    There is scant detail, but Thomas purportedly added olives to the drink. The prospector paid using a gold nugget.

    The truth is out there!


    THE NIBBLE Blog – Adventures In The World Of Fine Food

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