I reject the notion that I’m a snob. Sure, it’s a little unnerving how frequently I’m called that, but I figure the other patients in the ward are simply jealous.What sparked the latest wave of snob-related comments was my assertion that I had unwittingly discovered the secret to one of life’s greatest mysteries, the Dirty Martini. Naturally all within earshot inched closer and began drooling, testimony to the classic cocktail’s nearly universal appeal, and the possibility that they were heavily medicated.
I stood, paused a few moments for dramatic effect, and went on to say that the Dirty Martini is concocted with three principal ingredients— premium French vermouth, superior dry gin or vodka, and a healthy dose of olive brine. As cocktail aficionados and nightlife enthusiasts will attest, when made properly the drink is an exquisite feast for the senses.
“Naturally there’s more to it,” I whispered. “The secret to the cocktail’s magic lies not with the vermouth, or the brilliance of the spirit. Why I’ve made countless Dirty Martinis over the years at many different bars, and on each occasion I used nothing in their formulation but unimpeachable brands of dry vermouth and equally flawless spirits. Now don’t get me wrong, the results were invariably delightful and well received, but I’ve always known that an even finer version of the famous cocktail was possible.”
It wasn’t until I stopped talking that I noticed I’d emptied the room. And I was just getting to the good part too. You see, after years of struggling to unravel the enigma, I came to the realization that the X factor had to be the quality and character of the olive brine. That had to be the weak link.
In the way-back machine of my mind, I replayed the tapes of countless bartending shifts and watched a seemingly endless stream of cocktail servers pluck olives out of the garnish tray with their fingers or fake nails. Occasionally they’d deign using a toothpick to snag the slippery bastards, but usually not. At night’s end I’d chuck the brine and remaining olives back into the industrial-sized jar stored in the cooler, only to fish them out again with an old slotted spoon the next day. No wonder so many Dirty Martinis taste less than marvelous. Inferior, potentially tainted brine with swirling bits of olives and pimento can do that to a cocktail.
As fate would have it, I recently received a bottle of DIRTY SUE, THE ORIGINAL DIRTY MARTINI MIX. The label stated that the brine mix was made from premium, twice filtered olive juice and developed by two L.A. bartenders (www.dirtysue.com). Curious, I poured some of the amber colored brine into a glass and relished its savory aroma. Taking a small sip I was impressed with its luxurious, oily mouthfeel and fresh olive, brine and balsamic vinegar taste.
With growing anticipation I then combined 3 ounces of Plymouth Gin, a shot of Vya Preferred California Dry Vermouth, and 3/4 ounce of the precious Dirty Sue in an iced mixing glass. I tenderly stirred the drink and poured it into a chilled cocktail glass. So as to not skew the experience, I left the requisite olives garnish off the drink.
Unlike more pedestrian Dirty Martinis, this version had an elegant appearance with ideal clarity, a greenish hue and a tantalizing array of fresh citrus, herbal, and salty aromas. It was after the first sip I realized that the icy cold cocktail was indeed the object of my quest. The martini bathed my palate with a dreamy mix of spicy, herbal flavors, and glorious briny notes on the finish. All I can add is that the soulful experience ended far too quickly for my liking.
Now honestly, does this make me sound like a snob? Can’t one be discriminating without being branded pretentious? Herb the Attendant agrees with me about ultra-cool Dirty Sue, but thinks I’m a snob nonetheless. It must be hard to find good help.