Dirty

Booze and bawdiness. Intoxication and innuendo. Sauce and sex. The two are inextricably linked. It’s not that you can’t have one without the other, but let’s face it alcohol and action are hot bedfellows.

Not only is drink used as a social lubricant, but we also give drinks provocative names like Sex on the Beach, the Screaming Orgasm and the Buttery Nipple. These drinks might sound clever when you first sneak into a bar when you are 19, but they are a bit hard to order with a straight face once you pass the age of 25.

There is one drink that has managed to subtly invoke notions of nooky without compromising its sophistication: the Dirty Martini. Martinis are the epitome of an erudite drink, but give it the name “dirty” and it opens the door to intimation. So, what is it?

A classic martini has two main ingredients: chilled vodka or gin, and dry vermouth. The International Bartenders Association specifies that a martini has 2 ounces of gin, half an ounce of dry vermouth. I’m not going to get into the whole gin vs. vodka debate because they both have their own merits. Because I live in Texas I often choose Tito’s Handmade Vodka or Dripping Springs Vodka. Here are some tips on making a damned fine martini.

  • Start off by misting the outside of the glasses with water, and put them in the freezer until frosty
  • Pour gin or vodka into a cocktail shaker with cracked ice
  • Shake the hell out of the liquor until it feels like your hands are going to freeze to the shaker like Ralphie’s friend Flick’s tongue froze to the pole in a Christmas Story
  • Rinse the inside of the glass with the vermouth by swirling it around a few times. Then toss the majority of it down the drain
  • Pour the shaken vodka or gin into the chilled and vermouth bathed glass through the shaker strainer to remove any chunks of ice, but allow it to get a fine sheen of frozen crystalline glamour  

So what makes it dirty? Pop in 2 large, firm olives and a measure of olive brine. How dirty do you want it? Some recipes call for a tablespoon, but you can get downright filthy if you like. Now it’s sophisticated and sexy.

The conversion to dirty happens right from the start. Drinking from a martini glass is putting your lips on the hem of an inverted A-line skirt. Next the salty brine mixes with the alkaline alcohol like the sweat on a lover’s lip. Fleshy olives stand their ground for a moment, and then yield to the bite. I don’t know who bit whose lip, but I taste a little blood. And I like it. A good dirty martini is as cloudy as you are when you are finished, relaxing in the warmth of its memory. Ready for a second round?  

What are you drinking?