You are looking at a professional dirty martini drinker. I was intrigued when Eric Tecosky, cofounder of Dirty Sue, offered to send me a bottle of his premium blend olive brine, promising to change my mixology method forever. His website features testimonials of celebrities praising this product for filling a void in the bartending market. While I do not think Dirty Sue replaces olive brine altogether, it is an interesting and valuable addition to any bartender’s liquor cabinet.
A dirty martini tasting party was promptly organized with a panel of like-minded friends in order to gain the broadest spectrum of tastes and opinions. I gamely tried both gin and vodka varieties, using Plymouth Gin and Stolichnaya Vodka. Plymouth is said to be the style of gin called for in the original recipe for a martini; it uses fewer botanical flavors than its cousin, London Dry Gin. Real olive brine from pitted green olives purchased at a gourmet pickle and olive store at 86th Street and First Avenue in Manhattan stood as the challenger to Dirty Sue. Some drops of Martini-brand dry vermouth were swirled around in each glass to give our martinis’ dirtiness the veneer of the classic’s respectability. Once the formalities were dispensed with, the real order of business for the evening began:
GIN & OLIVE BRINE
Tasted soapy, as the salty astringency of brine drowned out the subtle flavors of gin. No requests for a second round.
GIN & DIRTY SUE
For a true gin martini-lover, this is a way to make things dirty. The botanicals in the gin came through, with Dirty Sue adding a light complementary flavor of salt and olive. Truly an aficionado’s drink.
VODKA & OLIVE BRINE
The typical recipe for a dirty martini, it is a drink with heft that quenches an appetite, although drinking it on an empty stomach is not recommended. A silver bullet for salt cravings.
VODKA & DIRTY SUE
Very clean and subtle. It lacks the meatiness of regular olive brine, but the olive flavor does emerge triumphant. As Dirty Sue is twice distilled, the martini appears crystalline, without the characteristic cloudiness of a dirty martini.
Dirty Sue has the potential to make a very sophisticated drink, squeezing into niches where olive brine otherwise would be too brutal on the palate. It will not replace olive brine in my usual Stoli dirty martini because it lacks the satisfaction of brawn and meat; I order a dirty martini when I crave a liquid meal, a hunger that Dirty Sue does not quite gratify. Notably however, with Dirty Sue gin-lovers can enjoy their martinis dirty too – and I can’t wait to add it to a Bloody Mary. When choosing between olive brine and Dirty Sue, the difference lies in the desired type of drink: whether full-bodied or refined, both have their place and time. I will look for Dirty Sue in specialty, higher-end bars, where I hope that its flexibility to add saltiness to unexpected drinks will be explored and enjoyed.