Rodney Dangerfield once quipped, “I drink too much. The last time I gave a urine sample, it had an olive in it.” And just as Mr. Dangerfield got no respect, the cocktail olive is often denied the reverence it deserves. With the amount of attention being paid to gin versus vodka in a martini, the proper amount of vermouth, shaking versus stirring and whether an appletini is really a ’tini at all, it’s surprising that more imbibers aren’t paying attention to olive choice and quality. Good cocktail olives can be found at specialty stores, but the freshest garnishes are born in the kitchen. And if you like your martinis dry, these olives might provide all the vermouth you need, leaving more room for your favorite gin.
Pit 8 oz. of good-quality, large green olives (Spanish work well, such as Queen, Manzanilla or Sevillano) olives. Drain any brine from the olives. Fans of dirty martinis can reserve the brine for later use.
If you’re stuffing your olives, slice or otherwise prepare your stuffing of choice (we used roasted peppers). Squeeze the pieces tightly into the olives, where the pits used to be. Make sure that the pieces are large enough to actually “stuff” the olive, so they don’t slip out.
Place the olives into a clean glass jar. Fill with 375 ml.of dry vermouth. Add 2 long, thin strips of lemon peel or 5 dried juniper berries, being careful not to overdo it, so the olives don’t compete with the gin in a martini.
Cover the olives tightly with a lid and let them steep in the refrigerator for 3 days to a week, gently shaking the jar occasionally. The olives will keep for up to 3 months in the fridge.
TIP: To use your olives in a Martini, drop a vermouth-soaked olive into a chilled 6-ounce cocktail glass and top with 2 ounces of your favorite gin, stirred with ice. Add vermouth according to taste. If you like dry Martinis, the amount in the olive might be enough.