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Dirty Lemon Martini

Dirty Lemon Martini

Dirty Lemon Martini

I’ve had martinis on my mind lately, which explains this Dirty Lemon Martini.  I’ve found a new podcast that I absolutely love called Martinis and Murder.  The best part is that every episode starts with a martini recipe, which I guess makes the fact that the rest of the podcast is all about true crime a little easier to swallow.  The hosts, Daryn Carp and John Thrasher, are very funny and very engaging.  It helps, too, that their producer Matt is a shadowy figure in the background, making up martinis and making the occasional snarky remark that only the hosts can hear. I don’t usually read or watch true crime stories, which is strange, given that my preferred reading genre is mysteries.  It’s one thing for it to be made up, I suppose, then for it to be something that happened in real life.  This podcast is the exception for me, as it reminds me quite a bit of the podcast, Serial.

But enough about true crime podcasts.  Back to the Dirty Lemon Martini.  I love a good dirty martini.  I’ve been known to make them with any olive brine I have on hand, including that from kalamata olives.  There’s something so lovely about the brininess of the olives and the sharpness of the vodka and Vermouth.  My favorite variation on this theme is a dirty martini with the brine of preserved lemons.  Oh my goodness – this is the perfect way to end out a week.  Preserved lemons infuse the brine with a hint of lemon.  I use juniper berries and peppercorns in my preserved lemons, so there’s a hint of these spices as well.

Dirty Lemon Martini

This martini is so easy to make – all it takes is some good vodka, a dry Vermouth, and the brine from some preserved lemons.  This is yet another good reason to have salt preserved citrus on hand, because when Friday comes around, who wouldn’t want to curl up with Netflix and a Dirty Lemon Martini?

Dirty Lemon Martini

Dirty Lemon Martini

Dirty Lemon Martini


Dirty Lemon Martini


  • 3 ounces vodka
  • 1 ounce Dry Vermouth
  • 1/2 - 1 ounce brine from preserved lemons


  1. Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake. Strain into a chilled martini glass.
  2. Serves 1
  3. Enjoy!
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Grapefruit Negroni

Grapefruit Negroni

I get inspired quite a bit from eating and drinking while I’m traveling.  Case in point – I had a really good Negroni when I was stopped over at the Minneapolis airport last month.  It was a super booze-forward drink: I could definitely taste the gin and had to take it very, very slow so as not to be tipsy on my flight.  That said, I love the super bitter tones of any drink that has a bitter liqueur in it and Campari is definitely bitter.

I’ve been thinking about that Negroni quite a bit and wondering if I could make a variation with what I have in the liquor cabinet – namely a bottle of Aperol that I used this summer to make Aperol Spritzes but that has been lingering on the shelf ever since.  I did a bit of research and found out that it’s not that unusual to substitute Aperol for the Campari in a Negroni so thought I’d give it a try.  While I was at it, I also had a grapefruit on hand and since grapefruits are bitter, I thought, why not?

My experiment in mixology paid off – this is a fruity, slightly sweet, slightly bitter drink.  It’s simple and straightforward and would probably have had even better grapefruit tones if Clay hadn’t tried to help by juicing the grapefruit and then dropping the cocktail shaker on the floor (yep – it already had the gin, vermouth and Aperol in it.  I don’t recommend this step – it leaves the floor a really sticky mess).  Fortunately, the grapefruit was only juiced half-way and there was enough to start over and make this cocktail.  This is a great watch a classic movie and snuggle under the blankets kind of drink.  Happy Friday Happy Hour!


Grapefruit Negroni
Serves 1

1 ounce gin
1 ounce sweet vermouth
1 ounce Aperol
Juice from ½ a grapefruit

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker over ice and shake.  Serve in a martini glass.  Enjoy!

Mostly Classic Manhattan

Mostly Classic Manhattan

Last week, I was happily sitting outside in the sun and sipping away at a melon mojito; this week, I’m cozied up under a blanket with dog snuggled tight against me under an afghan and sipping away at a very classic fall drink – the Manhattan.  I’m calling this a mostly classic Manhattan, as I did make a few small tweaks to the common recipe.

First off, as I think I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’ve been slowly rebuilding my liquor cabinet contents since we moved back in March.  I had more storage space, for one, in our old house, so had plenty of room to have things like a quarter full bottle of Midori floating around forever.  In this house, if it doesn’t have an immediate use or purpose, there just isn’t enough room to keep it around.  As a result, most of my half-open bottles of various liquors were donated to friends before we left, which apparently included both my whiskey and bourbon.

And then we moved and in the chaos of the move and setting up in a new place, my brain said – of course you still have whiskey and bourbon; why would you have left these staples behind?  If only my moving brain and my current brain could get on the same page, I wouldn’t be left mid-recipe back in July for bourbon ribs having to scurry over to the liquor store to buy bourbon…

I digress, sort of.  I did buy bourbon.  I did not, however, replace the whiskey, which I, of course realized after I got home from the liquor store to buy the sweet vermouth and bitters for this recipe.  So…substitution time.  I made my mostly classic Manhattan with a honey bourbon, which is what I had on hand.  I actually really liked the soft and subtle honey flavor in this and the orange bitters really complimented it.  The orange bitters are not really classic – a true Manhattan would use Angostura bitters, but I have been in a citrus kind of mood, so quite enjoyed the blending of flavors that the bitters added.

This is a great sit-by-the-fire-and-sip drink.  Serve it over ice and feel free to garnish as you choose – brandied cherries would be lovely in this, but the candied lemon was great, too.  Yay for fall!

candied-lemon-slices manhattan

Mostly Classic Manhattan
2 ounces whiskey or bourbon
1 ounce sweet vermouth
A few dashes of orange bitters
Candied lemon (recipe below)

Add the whiskey or bourbon, sweet vermouth, and orange bitters to a cocktail shaker with ice and shake.  Serve over ice.  Garnish with candied lemon.

Candied Lemon
1 lemon, sliced into 1/8th inch slices and de-seeded
2 cups water
1 cup sugar

Boil 1 cup of the water and add the lemons.  Boil for 1 minute and then drain.  This blanching step helps to pull some of the bitterness out of the lemon rind.

Combine the remaining 1 cup of water and the sugar in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Add the blanched lemons and cook on a low boil for an hour.  Remove the lemon slices and let dry on a parchment lined baking sheet for 24 hours.  These keep well in an airtight container.