The Perfect Holiday Martini with Almond-Stuffed Olives

Somewhere in the Smithsonian Institution’s presumably vast storage and archives is a makeshift and  yet impressively elaborate gin still. It’s actually a prop, donated to the Institution by 20th Century-Fox  after the finale of M*A*SH.

Those who remember the show, a comedy-drama that followed the  shenanigans and struggles of doctors and nurses working in a mobile army surgical hospital during  the Korean War, will remember that still well. It was a beloved fixture of protagonist Hawkeye  Pierce (Alan Alda)’s tent, haphazardly fashioned out of various military equipment. His gin drink of  choice? The martini — but not just any martini. “I’d like a dry martini, Mr. Quoc, a very dry  martini,” he says in one episode, attempting to order at a bar. “A very dry, arid, barren, desiccated, veritable dustbowl of a martini. I want a martini that could be declared a disaster area. Mix me just such a martini.” 

If anyone knew how to make the best of a bad situation, it was Hawkeye Pierce, a renowned  surgeon who practiced extraordinary medicine — and who seemed to believe that the cure for  everything else was a healthy dose of gin.  

If you are partial to a dry martini …..The dryness is determined by the amount of vermouth — the less used, the dryer the cocktail. Hawkeye’s own recipe for a perfect martini: “You pour six  jiggers of gin into a glass and then you drink it while staring at a picture of Lorenzo Schwartz, the  inventor of vermouth.” (Though, sorry Hawkeye, the inventor of vermouth was actually Antonio  Benedetto Carpano. But hey, he was a brilliant doctor, not a historian. We’ll forgive him for his lack  of a fact check.) 

I’ve said it before, and I say it again: the secret to a fine cocktail is its garnish. The beauty of an  olive martini is that its garnish is hearty enough to essentially make it a drink and a snack, the perfect pre-dinner drink to whet the appetite.  

The kind of olive used is key. Forgo those little pimento-stuffed, mushy numbers and up your olive  game. The meaty, bright green Castelvetrano olive pairs especially well with botanical-rich gin. (Hint:  opt for an olive soaked in brine instead of oil, as the latter can result in an oily, unwelcome film on  top of the drink.) 

My personal favourite martini olive, however, is the almond stuffed variety. It’s the perfect  transition of textures: the liquid of the martini itself, the softness of the olive meat, and the  crunchiness of the nut within. You may find yourself throwing a few extra in the glass, turning this  classic cocktail into a drink and a meal. 

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Ingredients & Method 

In a shaker or mixing pitcher, combine: 

7-8 ice cubes 

1 dash vermouth (less than ½ oz — just enough to make the ice crackle) 

3 oz gin 

½ tsp olive juice 

1. Shake or stir as desired. Let sit for approximately two minutes, allowing the ice to chill the  alcohol.  

2. Spear several olives onto a toothpick and place in a martini glass. 

3. Strain the liquid into the glass. 

4. Enjoy!

Kate Shelton
Kate has led a diverse career in both the arts and business management. From dancing with the prestigious National Ballet of Canada to earning a Bachelor of Arts degree at Ryerson to then taking on the entrepreneurial role of running a small business, Kate’s wide range of experience has allowed her to develop a keen eye for art and design. As an avid Crossfitter, Kate has a true appreciation for leading an active, healthy lifestyle. She currently lives in Oakville, Ontario, with her husband and their wonderful son.