Thursday, June 25, 2009



Vices Bring Us (or Two Wood Boards With Glue In The Middle) Closer Together

I am a fan of the martini.

It was not always this way. After reaching the momentous age of twenty-one, when an American youth can finally admit that they've been drinking for years, my father — an avid martini drinker — mixed me my first gin and vermouth apératif.

I did not like it. And I gave it a good 3 or 4 hours worth of effort. I could have sucked down 170 or 180 schnapps incarnations in that time. Sure, I'd have died, but I guarantee my fructose-saturated corpse wouldn't have been scowling like a gargoyle.

The problem, as I see it, was that I had yet to develop a taste for the bitter things in life. But, years later, having come to embrace bitterness, in both the "beverage" sense and the "success of others" sense, I was primed to re-experience the martini.

The catalyst was my love of olives. The martini, for me, was primarily an olive delivery system. So naturally I gravitated towards what is termed the "Dirty Martini", or, as is aptly demonstrated in the comic above by the Mojo The Sock Monkey Eight-Panel Players, a martini with olive juice added. And maybe some trash.

Today, I thought I'd share with anyone who's interested my Dirty Martini recipe. Of course, I only encourage those of my readers who are of the proper legal age to partake in this recipe. Should you be underage, I'd recommend you have a Virgin Dirty Martini, which is really just olive juice, some ice cubes, and — to help properly mimic gin's subtle notes of chemical bitterness — three or four pinches of earwax.

So, without further ado, I present:

A Kevin Cornell Dirty Martini

1 glass without any holes or cracks (preferably empty)
2 jiggers (3 oz.) of Gin
1/4 oz. of Extra Dry Vermouth (approximate)
3-85 jalapeño-stuffed olives
1/4 oz. of olive juice (approximate)
Frozen water, cubed or chipped or what have you

The Glass

The most important ingredient to your martini is the glass, without which you'd be forced to mix the martini in your mouth, which hardly bespeaks of class, and is only slightly more acceptable than mixing the drink in a bellybutton. The traditional martini glass has no place in my recipe. I find that its extreme top-heaviness leaves one prone to spills, and one should try and not make a spectacle of oneself should one wish to move onto a second martini without one's wife noticing. Also, I feel a little too dainty holding the traditional glass. I stopped wearing lingerie for similar reasons.1

So, I specifically opt for a "rocks" glass, sometimes called a tumbler. At home, my specific glass is a sophisticated little number incorporating one glass inside of another, separated by a vacuum. It's a triumph of science. I keep meaning to write science a letter offering my hearty congratulations.

The Liquors

In the past decade or so, the martini found itself to be the Cinderella of cocktails. Suddenly every little bird and mouse and fawn was swooping in and adding bits of this and changing bits of that until finally the only thing that made the drink a martini was that it was in a martini glass. The repercussion of all this fluttering, bleating, swoop-swappery is that now, when ordering a martini, I must specifically ask for the traditional liquor — gin — to avoid being served that boorish, utilitarian usurper vodka.

Now, those with refined palettes often have specific brands of gin they prefer. I won't pretend to be able to tell much of a difference, at least not when the whole thing is a vehicle for olive delivery, so I just take whatever comes to mind first. I won't say what brand I have at home, I'll merely mention that it comes in a large enough bottle to be considered a "jug". Let that be your guide.

The only other liquor in my martini would be a hint of dry vermouth. Bartenders have told me that if I'm going to be having a dirty martini, there's no point in my adding the vermouth, as the olive juice performs a similar role as a foil for gin. However, at the end of my life, as I lay on my deathbed, I'd rather not have my last words be "I wish I drank more vermouth". Doing this now helps me avoid such a fate.

The Olive

When I speak of olives, I am of course speaking of the green olive. The black olive, while delicious, has no place in a martini. It's too mild, lacking the grotesque bitterness I crave. However, that doesn't mean that the green olive swims by its lonesome within my gin-splashed glass. For you see, while fluttering, bleating, swoop-swappery has damaged the martini in general, it has only benefitted the green olive.

Today's modern green-olive-on-the-go can not only contain the traditional pimento, but a variety of foodstuffs: sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, or, best of all, the jalapeño pepper. Hear me now — the olive of choice in a Kevin Cornell Dirty Martini is a jalapeño-stuffed olive. Let no one tell you different! Unless they're holding your kids ransom or something. Then, just do as they demand. I don't want it on my damn conscience that your family was fed to dugongs because you were too stubborn to reconsider my olive preferences, you ass!

The Juice

And we finally arrive at the most important ingredient. Just as I prefer jalapeño-stuffed olives, I prefer the juice said olives have been marinating in. Opening a completely different jar of un-jalapeñoed olives just for the juice smacks of craziness. The only situation I can think of where it might be worth getting a whole different jar would be if you were using habanero-stuffed olives. I've used a couple of these before, and let me tell you the habanero must be used sparingly. Your body will thank you, if "not rupturing in an explosion of salt and brimstone" can be interpreted as the body communicating its gratefulness.

And the rest...

Some other important ingredients I'll leave up to you. The ice for instance. I won't make unrealistic demands on your ice trays. If they cube, let them cube. It's their nature.

In terms of shaking or stirring, I prefer to stir my martinis, but only because I hate dirtying up a shaker (by which I mean, getting filth on it, rather than olive juice, which would be part of the filth, but these sort of semantics are only worth discussing after martini number two). The olives may be place in the drink, or skewered if you prefer it so. Tiny swords or fancy toothpicks do seem to be the common option, but I will say that a tiny sword seems a little dated, and to appear contemporary a tiny rocket launcher or submachine gun might be more appropriate.



1Just to clarify, I was wearing it when I worked out. Lace is one of man's most breathable fabrics. I got the idea from this workout video I saw online: "Sally Gets Pumped".

Comments on this Article

There are currently 32 comments.

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Never had much use for martinis but this one sounds good. I have been searching for an effective olive delivery system for quite some time since being banned from the local Olive Garden for raiding neighboring diners salad bowls. My wife will be pleased.


Yeah, despite their name, Olive Garden fails to deliver an appropriate amount of Olive. They should be called Breadstick Garden.


Hey, whenever that "jug" runs dry, I'd suggest you give Bluecoat Gin a try. It's relatively new, and is also the only active distillery in Philadelphia. The taste is quite good, floral and citrus-y. It's actually encouraged me to shift my martinis from dirty to more dry.

We'll have to get together and slam, ahem imbibe, some esoteric cocktails old chap!


Agreed! We can discuss the news of the day, and — later — duel with our canes!


I wonder what would happen if you used something like the wonderful Kalamata olive? (I imagine a hellmouth would open beneath you, but it'd be interesting to try!)


That was a long (and hilarious) way to go to cover up your love of the Zima.


I live more in the tradition of Snoop Dog's Gin and Juice. Except that I substitute Tonic for Juice. And then add some lime juice to make it a Gin and Tonic and Juice.

It just doesn't flow in a song as well. Got my mind on my monkey and my monkey on my mind.


I've noticed my taste buds have changed over the years as well... I switched to black coffee and started eating pickles. I like Martinis, but I'm currently drinking a lot of whiskey. You should give whiskey a try sometime. Also, nice Tanqueray bottle.


Erik - I've had so few Kalamata olives, I couldn't really say. But I demand you try it and tell me the results!

Testmonkey - My secret shame!

Reggebah - Gin and Tonic is one of those drinks I ruined for myself by overdoing it. Which is a shame, because I can use all the Quinine I can get.

Gerren - I like whiskey as well. Bourbon is my specific whiskey incarnation of choice. I used to drink Bourbon and Coke at weddings, until I realized that it put me way farther down the path of drunken jack-assery than other beverages.

glindon marten

I prefer Beefeater gin, but I don't drink anymore... not after the "incident" in which I tried to have sexual congress with a pineapple.


Remind me not to let Mojo mix me a Rusty Nail.

My preferred tipple of late is the Manhattan, although I am very fond of a good Martini. If you can get it, try some Hendrick's gin - possibly wouldn't work that well for a 'dirty' but has some wonderful depth in its own right.

PS - I gotta get some of those glasses...


My Gawd we were separated at birth (or at the bar shortly after). Nothing says civility quite like a dirty martini. (it's muffled...but you can clearly make it out)


I tried your martini last night... I'd say it was really good, but to be honest I don't remember much after trying it.


Glindon - You should use some foresight, and only purchase fruit that is... well... "receptive" to your overtures. By the way... I regret eating that fruit basket you sent.

Bananaglyph (My god, I love that you still use that name) - Yeah, I've had a Manhattan a couple times when I ran out of gin. It's not without it's charm! I'll keep an eye out for Hendrick's... maybe it's time I start trying to appreciate gin solo...

BigA - I often wonder if we WERE separated at birth. I mean literally... I've got this big chunk of head missing where I suspect I was connected to a siamese twin...

Gerren - Did you drink it through your mouth or your nose? Because one of those methods can cut off your oxygen and then... well, you get the picture...


I have never had a martini but I have to admit, it'd be worth ordering one, just so as to be able to say, "Shaken, not stirred." Course, as sexy as that sounds, I've also been told such a method will *bruise* the martini. Apparently, Mr. Bond's violent tendencies extended to having his own drinks roughed up before being served. I cringe to think of how he must have ordered his food.


I doubt he ordered food. He probably just ate whatever he killed last.

Alex Hallatt

Dirty martinis must be a favourite of Keith Knight too.


Surprisingly, you can get a lot of great liquor out of a dumpster. It's like a giant fermenting tank.

Wow... I felt sick halfway through writing that...


So that's where I've been going wrong... aceitunos rellenos con anchoas .. ¡no!


My dear lad:
In re: your glass preference. Please consider the old-fashioned, hollow-stemmed champagne saucer, which allow greater balance than the modern martini (née cocktail) glass. Also, do try a tipsy onion as an additional garnish.


funniest yet. (and mighty handy knowledge to have, too)

THomas Vidal

BRAVO! Brilliant article. I, like you, am a traditional martini fan, i.e., made with gin. I loved the article.


Just a friendly picknitwick: 3 jiggers really oughta = 4.5 oz


But I'm recommending 2 jiggers. ;)

But hey - you can use 3 if you want. I won't judge you!


At your suggestion, I bought some jalapeño-stuffed olives tonight. I can home to find myself rich in gin and poor in Vermouth, so I have been eating the olives. Pimentos will never grace my lips again. Thanks for expanding (and suddenly contracting) my world.

lydia Quinn

i recently found out that I like green olives. So now if I was to have a martini I could enjoy the whole thing, instead of drinking the martini, dissecting the olive to get at the delectable innards and then discarding the beaten and broken olive. :D

Or, being merely 21, maybe I'm neither old enough nor bitter enough to fully appreciate a martini...


This entry has a place in my heart. I also love the taste of dirty gin martinis. My gin preference is Broker's -- it has a crisp complex taste and wears a very smart bowler hat.


There is practically nothing that isn't improved by a smart lookin' hat!


Kevin, I love me some classic martinis also. You may be interested in a variation. I have no idea if it's an original (given the state of martini evolution, probably not), but try adding one hot, pickled okra (I prefer Talk 'o Texas [ha]) on a skewer of your choice. The complementarity of tastes is remarkable!


You certainly lifted my mood on this middle of the week - late in the afternoon - lost at work situation that I'm in.
Thank God you are partial to beverages that require both lengthy preparation rituals and an abundancy of accessory choises. My deviation from work would have been so much shorter had you preferred drinken single malt, which anyone knows you MUST drink neat and from a tulip shaped glass, lest you be condemmed to spend eternity in HELL for this sin alone. Obviously adding a tiny droplet of tap water does not count, but that goes without saying. Or does it? I might have said it a few words back, let me check. Oh yes, I did.


BTW, The first paragraph of my previous post makes a lot more sense, if I clarify that I am on CET, which makes it 16:31, not 10:31 from my perspective. Cheers!

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