The One Thing You Should Be Doing with Your Almost-Empty Pickle Jar

published Oct 13, 2023
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Pickled vegetables in a mason jar without its lid
Credit: Joe Lingeman

As a lover of both dill pickles and dirty martinis, chef Hailee Catalano’s video for pickle martinis immediately caught my attention. Pickle brine really isn’t that different from olive brine, and most people end up with leftover brine from the jar, so what could go wrong? I’d already tried swapping out olive brine with the brine of my favorite pickled chili peppers, so I was curious to see how classic dill pickle flavors would compare.

Credit: Lena Abraham

How to Make a Pickle Martini

I, like Catalano, prefer my martinis shaken until very, very cold, so I built my martini in a cocktail shaker. To the shaker, add two ounces gin, a splash of dry vermouth (I used 1/2 ounce), and 1 1/2 ounces of pickle juice. (Catalano used 1 ounce, but I thought I’d add a little extra, as I like my martinis on the salty side.)

Fill the shaker with ice and shake until very cold, about 30 seconds. Pour into chilled martini glass and serve garnished with pickles.

My Honest Review of the Pickle Martini

I really liked this twist on a classic dirty martini. The dill pickle seasonings really came through, giving the cocktail some herbaceous notes and subtle flavors of dry spices, like mustard and caraway seed, which complemented the herbal flavor of the gin well (although I do think this recipe would be nice with vodka, too). The salinity of the pickle brine — in my case, Claussen kosher dill pickles — was pretty similar to your average olive brine. I wouldn’t add more than 1 1/2 ounces, as to not overpower your spirit of choice.

It may take a try or two to achieve the perfect ratios, but if you love dill pickles, this twist on a martini is definitely worth trying. And for olive haters, this may be the substitute you’ve been waiting for.

Two Tips for Making Pickle Martinis

  • Not just any pickle will do. If you’re looking to make a dirty martini-esque drink, make sure you grab a savory pickle variety, like dill or spicy pickles, rather than bread and butter.
  • Strain the pickle juice. Because no one likes a chunky cocktail, be sure to strain out all the cucumber seeds and spices before adding the brine to the cocktail shaker.