The Best Dirty Vodka Martini recipe for New Year’s Eve

 With New Year’s Eve & 2021 rapidly approaching it’s the perfect opportunity to show you how to make the best dirty vodka martini! Stirred not shaken, please! Nothing feels quite as fancy as sipping on a martini with an assortment of drunken California olives on a skewer, even if your NYE celebration is in your pj’s on your sofa this year. Our vodka martini is a fantastic, classic cocktail to mix up and is the perfect way to put that premium vodka you scored at Christmas to use!

{ The recipe for this Classic Vodka Martini and the post that goes with it was made in partnership with California Olives! We received compensation and product in exchange for it. Opinions are always our own. If we don’t love it, you don’t hear about it. Thanks for your continued support! }}

Top down image of a Classic Vodka Martini with a pick of black and green olives next to a bowl of olives.

What is the difference between a vodka martini and a gin martini?

Most cocktail professionals will agree that piney flavored gin was originally used in the first Martini recipe. However, post-vodka craze in America, bartenders and mixologists began using vodka in place of gin to suit Americans’ flavor palates.

Gin lends a more complex, juniper-influenced flavor profile to a classic martini, whereas vodka will provide a smoother, simpler taste profile.

A Classic Vodka Martini on a table top next to a bowl of green olives

Why is it called a dirty martini?

While it may not sound all that appealing, a dirty martini is actually a flavor packed twist on the traditional cocktail. The classic martini, which contains gin or vodka and dry vermouth, is very clean, dry, and aromatic. The drink is perfectly clear because it only uses clear-colored liquors.

However, when you add a splash of California olive juice or brine, it adds a cloudy appearance and interesting character to the drink that disrupts the clean flavors but still tastes great.


Two Classic Vodka Martini in clear and gold ombre martini glasses

What are the ingredients for a dirty vodka martini?

Most cocktails follow standard recipes, but the classic martini — though it contains only a few ingredients and is a spectrum of near-infinite arrangements.

  • Top shelf vodka: The vodka you choose will either make or break this cocktail because vodka is the star; there’s nothing to disguise a bad one! Use vodka brands like Belvedere or Ketel One for the best results which fall in the $25 to $35 price range.
  • Dry Vermouth: The second ingredient in a Martini is dry vermouth. It’s a type of fortified wine, blended and infused with different herbs and botanicals. Since vermouth is a wine and begins to oxidize after opening, be sure it is kept cold and well-preserved in the refrigerator after it’s opened. A left-out bottle of vermouth will like other wines turn to vinegar which is not a desired flavor profile for a martini.
  • Green or black California olives & olive juice: Some say the olive is the best part of a martini and my husband would completely agree with them. Garnishing martinis with olives and/or mixing it with olive juice/brine gives an extra kick of flavor that we just LOVE! Dedicated martini drinkers savor the olives at the end of the drink after they have soaked up some of the vodka and vermouth hanging out in the glass, giving them a unique taste. However, we are all about serving our dirty martinis with a skewer of olives in them and a bowl of olives on the side for snacking along the way.

One Classic Vodka Martini next to a bowl of olives

Should a martini be shaken or stirred?

Martinis and any other booze-forward cocktail for that matter should be stirred. Stirring produces “a silky mouth-feel with precise dilution and perfect clarity,” says Elliot Ball, co-founder of The Cocktail Trading Company’s The Development Bar & Table in London. While shaking adds texture and aeration, changes the mouth-feel and binds ingredients that would readily separate with simple stirring.

How to properly stir a martini: Stir by twisting the bar spoon from the top so that that back of the spoon goes around the mixing glass evenly – the ingredients come together, the cocktail chills, but the drink’s components aren’t diluted with melting ice, and in turn doesn’t get cloudy. The result is a clear, spirit-strong cocktail. That is until you make it dirty!

What’s in a name? A lot actually!

There are a bunch of different ways to order a proper martini, here are the basics you should know when ordering this classic cocktail.

What are the main differences in dry martini vs wet martini or a dirty martini?

  • If you order a dry martini it means that you’d like less vermouth in your cocktail. A very dry martini would contain little to no vermouth; one might just roll the vermouth in the glass so that a thin film coats it — nothing more.
  • Ordering a wet martini will mean more vermouth in your cocktail than the standard five-to-one ratio.
  • A dirty martini comes with a splash of olive brine or olive juice for an additional flavor kick.

Two Classic Vodka Martinis next to a bowl of olives

Are there substitutes for olive juice in a dirty martini?

While olive juice is the classic ingredient to make a martini dirty, you can try the following as well for a slightly different drink.

  • Dill pickle or spicy pickle brine.
  • Pepperoncini brine adds a little heat. 
  • Caper brine. 
  • Jalapeño brine. 

How many Classic Dirty Vodka Martinis should I drink?

According to The Spruce Eats, “The vodka martini follows suit with the gin martini, Manhattan, and other liquor-vermouth combo cocktails: They’re not light drinks. With an 80-proof vodka and the average vermouth in this recipe’s ratio, it mixes up to about 28 percent ABV (56 proof). To put that into perspective, two martinis are stronger than a straight shot of vodka. Sip slowly and know your personal limit.”

Love the idea of olive inspired cocktails? So do we!!

We have photographed quite a few delicious California olive inspired cocktails and this feels like the perfect place to share them with you!

California Mary

This cocktail is packed with California Ripe Olive brine for a more flavorful Bloody Mary.

Gin & Cucumber Juice Cocktail

This cocktail puts a whole new flavor spin on the classic “Gin & Juice” by subbing in California Green Olive Juice in the recipe.

Sunshine Infusion Cocktail

This unique cocktail recipe showcases just how easy it is to impart flavor into your cocktails by making infused vodka! This cocktails flavor packed spirit is infused with California Ripe Olives and loads of fresh dill.

Do you prefer a more fruit forward martini? Don’t worry we have recipes for those too!

Two full martini glasses sit atop a rusted metal tray on top of a weathered wooden table top. The martini glasses are clear at the top and gold at the bottom of the glass and down the stem. Each martini has a slice of pear that has been bruleed floating in it. In the background there is a wire metal basket filled with green pears and in between the martini glasses is a yellow and white tea towel.

Roasted Pear Martini

This martini is the perfect sip for fall celebrations! Roasted pear puree blends perfectly with vermouth, pear vodka, and lemon juice in this martini that is sweetened with a cardamom infused syrup.

Two Super Antioxidant Martini on a table top with range wedge and cranberry garnish

Super Antioxidant Martini

We recently photographed this stunning cranberry and pomegranate infused martini for our friend The GFree Foodie and it was every bit as decadent to sip as it looks!

Fresh Pomegranate Martini

Pomegranate juice and orange liquor mix perfectly with vodka in this fruit forward martini recipe that we photographed for The GFree Foodie!

If you’ve made our Classic Vodka Martini I would be so grateful if you would rate the recipe and let me know what you think in the comments below! I just love hearing from you and your reviews and comments really help others that visit This Mess is Ours.


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2 chilled martini glasses filled with Classic Vodka Martinis. Each has a skewer with alternation black and green olives.

Classic Dirty Vodka Martini

  • Author: This Mess is Ours
  • Prep Time: 5 min
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 martini 1x
  • Category: Cocktails
  • Method: Stirred
  • Cuisine: Cocktails
  • Diet: Gluten Free


Don’t forget to rate the recipe and let me know what you think about this Classic Dirty Vodka Martini recipe in the comments below, I just love hearing from you and your reviews/comments really help other people that visit This Mess is Ours! 



2 1/2 ounces good quality vodka

1/2 ounce dry vermouth

1/2 ounce California green olive juice

Garnish: 2 to 4 green or black California olives


Add all the ingredients into a mixing glass with ice and stir. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with 2 to 4 skewered olives.


You can use black olive juice in this recipe as well, but it will change the color of your martini. 

Keywords: vodka martini, dirty vodka martini, martini, olive martini, green olive martini, black olive martini

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