The Celluloid Pantry: Dirty Martinis and Sabrina (1954)

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Was director Billy Wilder a kitchen renegade? Maybe. Let’s take a look at the evidence so far:

We’ve already witnessed Sugar Kane’s (Marilyn Monroe) cocktail improvisation in Wilder’s 1959 classic, Some Like It Hot (1959). When the sultry singer can’t find a shaker, she re-purposes a hot water bottle to mix Manhattans on the run.

And then there’s Wilder’s Academy Award-winning drama The Apartment (1960), where C.C. “Bud” Baxter (Jack Lemmon), famously “serves” hot spaghetti without a colander, straining it through a tennis racket at the kitchen sink.

And now let’s consider the director’s 1954 romantic classic Sabrina. While we’ve already seen Sabrina Fairchild’s (Audrey Hepburn) first disastrous attempt at a souffle, we’ve barely scratched the surface of this classic foodie film. Here, even Wilder’s minor characters get in on the action, serving up martinis with a whole new twist.

Cigar-chomping tycoon Oliver Larrabee (Walter Hampden) likes his cocktails. So, while his son Linus (Humphrey Bogart) discusses gardenias, indoor and outdoor pools, and invitation lists for an upcoming wedding-slash-business merger, Larrabee Sr. turns his attention to more important things.

Poised at the elegant bar in his office, Larrabee Sr. mixes himself a martini, stirring it in a pitcher, then pouring it into an ornate cocktail glass. But when it comes to a garnish, Larrabee Sr. hits an unexpected roadblock: There’s only one olive left at the bottom of the jar – and it’s wedged there tightly, tantalizingly out of reach.

Larrabee Sr. tries dislodging it with a spoon, but doesn’t make it past the jar’s narrow neck. Then he tries his fingers, but they’re just too short. He even attempts to spear the garnish with a paperclip, but no luck. He taps the bottle, shakes it, raps it sharply, but the olive just won’t budge.

Then inspiration strikes: Instead of bringing the olive to the martini, why not bring the martini to the olive? With a flourish, Larrabee Sr. pours the cocktail out of the glass, and sips it directly from the jar.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Dirty Martini
(makes one cocktail)

2 oz gin
1 tbs dry vermouth
1 tbs olive juice (or more, to taste)
1 olive

Pour the gin, vermouth, and olive juice into a cocktail shaker over ice. Shake gently and strain into a glass. Garnish with an olive.