Preserved Lemon Martini

Akin to a “dirty” martini, this Preserved Lemon Martini is a sophisticated, savory gin martini variant. The preserved lemon brine brings both the salty note and a citrus-y acidity that is oh-so-pleasant. With only three ingredients – gin, dry vermouth, and preserved lemon – it’s a quick and easy sipper for cocktail hour. It’s five o’clock somewhere!

2 preserved lemon martinis and a wood cutting board.

👩🏻‍🍳 Tamara Talks – About Preserved Lemon Martinis

Who will enjoy this dirty martini?

This briny, savory Preserved Lemon Martini is not for the lover of dry martinis; it is for the lover of “dirty” or “filthy” martinis (like me)! Just ask my husband… He said “it’s too salty.”🫢 He doesn’t care for gin, and he certainly doesn’t like dirty martinis.

A preserved lemon feels somewhere between an olive and a pickled onion in terms of vinegary-acidity, but it is saltier than most pickles and the citrus gives it a lifting, pallette-cleansing quality. Paired with a dry or citrus-forward gin and a good dry vermouth, this cocktail should check all the boxes for dirty martini lovers like me!

What is a dirty martini?

A dirty martini is a variation of the classic martini cocktail that typically includes olive brine or olive juice, which gives the drink a slightly salty and savory flavor. If you order a dirty martini, this is what you will get. However, the brine from cocktail onions, cornichons or pickles, and preserved lemons make for delicious variations.

📋 Ingredients Notes

Here is a quick look at the ingredients in the recipe – it’s handy to use at the grocery store or as a summary of what you need. Skip to the recipe for quantities.

Ingredients for preserved lemon martinis: Gin, preserved lemons, and dry vermouth, and a jigger, cocktail shaker, and bar spoon.
Ingredients for your preserved lemon martinis: Gin, preserved lemons and extra dry vermouth. Gather your equipment too: Jigger, shaker with strainer, and bar spoon.
  • gin – On photo day, I used the navy strength gin from The Chemist Distillery in Asheville, NC. It is high proof at 114 proof, very smooth, and has a hint of citrus that pairs well with the lemons. I like a higher proof gin that stands up well to the brine and dry vermouth. Tanqueray is always a solid choice. See Best gins for a Dirty Martini if you’re looking for more ideas.
  • dry vermouth – In McAllen, Texas, we don’t have a lot of options for dry vermouth; sweet vermouth has far more. I use what I have on hand. The Noilly Prat is fine. The “experts” may suggest that a “regular” dry vermouth is preferable for dirty martinis rather than “extra dry” like the one shown in the photo above. I use what I have on hand.
  • preserved lemons – You can make your own, or find them in the international foods aisle or online. You will use both the preserved lemon brine, and the peel for garnish. The amount is purely subjective. I suggest 1/4 to 1/2 ounce per cocktail.

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🔪 Step-By-Step Instructions

  • Gather ingredients and equipment – You’ll need a shaker, a barspoon, sharp paring knife (for garnish), strainer, glass(es), and a jigger. Ingredients include a jar of preserved lemons that include brine, gin, and dry vermouth. NOTE: A chilled glass is nice, but not required!
  • Prepare the preserved lemon garnish – Cut a preserved lemon in half lengthwise. Scrape out the lemon pulp (interior). I like a melon baller scoop with a serated edge for this task. You will form the garnish with the lemon peel. I recommend cutting the peel in wide strips or wedges. You can either thread them on a cocktail pick, or just float them in the glasses.
To make the preserved lemon martini, add ingredients to a shaker with ice, stir vigorously then strain into a cocktail glass.
  • Make the cocktail – Add ice cubes to the shaker followed by the gin, dry vermouth, and brine. Stir well for 30 seconds, then strain into a glass. Garnish with preserved lemon as desired.

❓FAQ

What is a “dirty” martini?

A “dirty” martini offers a briny twist on the classic martini, appealing to those who enjoy a saltier flavor profile in their cocktails. Typically, the brine comes from a jar of olives. A “Gibson” martini switches the brine and garnish to cocktail onions. This preserved lemon martini uses the brine from a jar of preserved lemons and a sliver of the lemon for garnish to provide that salty/savory/acidic note that many will find appealing.

Should a martini be shaken or stirred?

For a traditional gin martini, many purists advocate stirring, as it maintains the clarity of the drink while properly chilling it. However, some people prefer the frothy texture and slightly more diluted taste that shaking provides. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference and the desired characteristics of your martini.

💭 Top Tip

If not certain how “dirty” you want your martini, start with the smaller amount of brine. I felt like 1/4 ounce of brine is plenty. Amount is totally subjective.

If you love a good dirty martini, you’ll want to try this preserved lemon martini. The complexity of flavors – salty, umami, citrus, botanicals – is a new way to enjoy one of your favorite cocktails! Cheers!

Signature in red and green with chiles and limes. Healthyish Latin cuisine.

A wood cutting board, and 2 martinis with preserved lemon garnish.

Preserved Lemon Martini

Preserved lemon and brine replace olives and brine in this vibrant twist on the classic dirty martini with gin!
5 from 3 votes

Click to rate!

Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Course Cocktail
Cuisine American
Servings 1 cocktail
Calories 177 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 ounces gin
  • 1 ounce dry vermouth
  • ¼ – ½ ounce preserved lemon brine - to taste
  • preserved lemon slice - for garnish

Instructions

  • Fill a mixing glass or shaker with ice cubes. Add the gin, dry vermouth, and preserved lemon brine into the mixing glass or shaker. Stir well for 30 seconds, then strain into a chilled glass. Garnish with a slice of preserved lemon. Cheers!

Nutrition

Serving: 1cocktail | Calories: 177kcal

NOTE: Macronutrients are an approximation only using unbranded ingredients and MyFitnessPal.com. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

Did you make this recipe? Please leave a comment and/or star rating! Email us with any questions: tamara@beyondmeresustenance.com

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2 Comments

  1. This really does take a traditional dirty martini to a whole new level. Capers and caper brine also go well in a dirty martini variant.