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How Many Olives Make A Dirty Martini? Here’s A Bartender’s Superstition

Although an art of precision and science, Bartending is not exempt from superstitions. One intriguing belief revolves around the number of olives in a classic cocktail, the dirty martini. Let’s explore!

Helan Singh

February 02, 2024

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1. Origins of Olives in a Martini

Olives found their way into martinis during the 19th century when flavour profile experimentation led to the introduction of this complex ingredient, forever associating a dry martini with olives.

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2. John O’Connor’s Influence

In 1901, New York bartender John O’Connor stumbled upon olives and olive brine while crafting a dry martini. This accidental addition birthed the concept of a ‘dirty’ martini, gaining popularity during the Prohibition Era.

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3. Odd Numbers Rule

A common superstition dictates that only one or three should be used when garnishing a martini with olives. Bartenders avoid even numbers, believing it brings bad luck to the drink.

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4. Taste Enhancer

As a salty treat, Olives add a distinct layer of taste to the martini, enhancing the flavour profile and surprising the taste buds.

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5. Italian Coffee Bean Tradition

Similar traditions exist in Italian cultures, where coffee beans garnishing sambuca are in threes, as even numbers are considered unlucky, reflecting a cultural belief in hospitality.

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6. Universal Hosting Traditions

Across the globe, hosting traditions echo this superstition. In West Asia, dates are served in threes or fives, emphasising the aversion to even numbers in these cultural practices.

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