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Feb 16, 2015


I've read more than once that Dale Degroff's favourite, classic cocktail is a gin Martini with an olive and a discarded lemon twist.

Remember that the next time a Hipsterologist rolls his eyes, curtly informs you that he doesn't stock olives and denounces the use of them for anything other than conditioning his ridiculous leather apron. (Those olives were flown in by carrier pigeon from Spain and he crushes them by hand to make his custom Apron Salve $49.95/oz.)

Hipster bashing aside, I too love a gin Martini with both olive and lemon. And, if the world is in perfect alignment, that will come in the form of a lemon stuffed olive.

Yes, such a thing exists.

If you ever happen to see them anywhere, either jarred or in the olive cart, do yourself a favour and pick some up. It might just change your world. 

I used to get them at the St. Lawrence market but they must have gone out of fashion or the supplier stopped making them, or the universe was doing me a solid because I could consume a million of them (olives not Martinis) without ever tiring of the sour, salty combo.

So, I'm left with no choice but to DIY some of my own. Don't worry this recipe has plenty of short cuts. 

I wanted to end up with a lemon stuffed olive and the sour, salty juice so that I could use a splash of it right in my Martini...

You're right, that would make it a Dirty Martini. I'm breaking all the rules this week. 

Why not? Last month's MXMO challenge was Blue Drinks, if it's acceptable to use blue dyed liqueur, surely we can make an exception for the juice of a perfectly preserved, lemon stuffed olive, right?

I've been working on this recipe for a while because I really do love them and rarely see them. Plus, I always like to at least attempt to make things myself even if I go back to the prepackaged version in the end.

Use a knife to cut thick peels. A peeler will not provide enough of the pith. You'll only really need the peel and juice from two lemons per Cup of olives. It's best to buy pitted olives in brine because you can reuse the brine, otherwise you'll need seasoned (salted) vinegar.

Boiling the peels will soften them and remove some of the bitterness. Going through the process twice will leave them tender but firm and the pith will become translucent.

I love Ontario produce, but if I had to live anywhere else in the world, a place where fresh citrus is grown would be high on the list. Better still, somewhere olives and citrus are grown. Trip to Italy?

Cut some small strips, 2 x .5 cm. and push them into your already pitted olives. Put them in a jar with salt, add back some of the pickling liquid, the juice from the lemons and 1 oz of your favourite gin. Give them a gentle turn or two and pop them in the fridge.

If you're into this kind of thing, you'll recognize this process as being very similar to preserved lemons. As such, another cheat would be to buy both the olives and preserved lemons and Frankenstein them.

If you've never had this delicious combo, you're probably wondering why anyone would go to any of this trouble. Once you've had one you'll wonder why you drink any other cocktail, ever.

Martini with Preserved Lemon Dirt
2 oz gin
1/4 - 1/2 oz olive/lemon juice*, fine strained
1 drop orange bitters 

Fill a stemmed glass with ice and water. In a separate mixing glass add all ingredients. Fill 3/4 with ice, gently stir for 30 seconds to completely chill. Discard water and ice from stemmed glass. Strain mixture into chilled glass. Garnish with lemon stuffed olive.

*Lemon stuffed olives
1 C pitted olives in brine (reserve)
2 lemons, peeled and juiced
1 oz gin
2 tbsp salt

Cut end from lemons, to make a flat surface. Peel thick slices of lemon peel with a sharp knife. Boil peels, discard water and repeat. Drain and cool peels, slice into 2 x .5 cm strips. Push peels into olives. In a small jar add salt, 1/4 C reserved brine, olives and gin. Top off with lemon juice. Place lid on jar and gently turn a few times before refrigerating.

Another great theme from MXMO. Thank you to NhilUtopia for having us explore this topic. I'm once again looking forward to the other entries, many people have firm opinions about messing with Martinis. (Update) Here's the roundup post, so many great ideas!

Please feel free to hate on me in the comments for hurting Gin's feelings by kicking dirt in its face.

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