Martini’s are made with gin or vodka and a splash of dry vermouth. A martini’s classic garnish is olives. There is a long history of garnishing cocktails, at least as early as 1862 when Jerry Thomas’s bartender manual instructs bartenders to use a piece of lemon peel in drinks.
Although a cocktail garnish is generally ornamental adding appeal to a cocktail, it can also impact the flavor of the drink. The bartender manual mentioned above instructed to rub the peel around the rim, presumably to leave behind a bit of flavor. The olive used to garnish a martini adds a slightly savory flavor to a drink. If you garnish the same liquid ingredients of gin or vodka and vermouth, with a small pearl onion, you’ve made a Gibson.
The choice of olive is up to the mixologist, but green olives are the standard, whole, pitted or stuffed. Those who want to impart the olive’s saltiness to the cocktail can skewer the olives and then pour the mixed liquids over the olives as they pour the cocktail. Then drop the skewered olives into the drink. To make a dirty martini simply add a splash of the olive brine to the vodka/gin and vermouth. If you want a clean martini, and plan to garnish with olives, you can first rinse the olives before adding. Skewer the rinsed olives and lay the skewer across the rim of the glass so the olives just barely touch the top of the drink.
Is it 5:00 yet? I’m thirsty.
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