Why the Olive Oil Martini Is the Next Must-Try Unexpected Cocktail Combo

A mixologist tells us it’s time to give this hot cocktail trend a try at home—and shares a recipe so you can shake one up yourself.

Spurred on by TikTok food trends and digital recipe sharing by all-star chefs and mixologists, food and drink innovations seem to be popping up at an increasingly rapid clip. As we share, swap, and riff on concepts, creativity seems to be climbing to new heights, as well. In the drinks space alone, as recipe developers are seeking new ways to make their mark, we’re seeing a flurry of cocktail recipes that are a mash-up two drinks (ahem, Matcha Martinis), are variations on the classics (Parmesan Espresso Martinis) and are serious time-savers (we’re looking at you, freezer door cocktails!).

The latest cocktail trend that caught our eye? The Olive Oil Martini. That’s right, in the season when Starbucks launched their olive oil-infused Oleato coffee drink line and some sippers are spiking their home coffee with a spoonful of EVOO, one mixologist we spoke to says we should keep that heart-healthy fat handy to level-up our martinis. 

Read on to learn more about how he came up with the idea, how (and why) to do “fat-wash” with olive oil, and to score an Olive Oil Martini recipe you can shake up for happy hour tonight.

Smoked Rosemary Oil Dirty Martini
Candice Bell / Getty Images

What Is an Olive Oil Martini?

We were clued into this idea while doing coast to coast outreach to land at our 2023 drink of summer. (We selected the Hugo Spritz, by the way, due to its summery flavor and low-ABV, but swooned over this any-time-of-year cocktail idea, too.)

“I first read about using olive oil in cocktails a year ago in an industry publication, and the idea always stuck with me,” Eric Cacioppo, assistant director of food and beverage at JW Marriott Nashville, tells BHG. “This evolved into creating a fat-washed gin using olive oil, which sent me down a path to further research the technique, brainstorm on what type of cocktail an olive oil fat-washed gin would work well in, and explore how to bring it all together.” 

In case you’re unfamiliar with the strategy, fat-washing is a cocktail technique that’s more commonly employed for liquors like whiskey, bourbon, and rye using fats ranging from butter and nut butter to duck fat and bacon drippings. Our friends at Serious Eats have the details so you can study up on the science of fat-washing, if you like.

“We incorporate the olive oil into the cocktail through a process called fat-washing. This process, which actually is an evolution from the perfume industry, involves mixing a liquid fat with a spirit to ‘wash’ the spirit with the essence of the fat,” Cacioppo explains. “Once it's been adequately mixed, the mixture is chilled to separate the fat from the liquid. That chilled fat is strained out of the spirit, but it leaves a new depth of flavor, more curious mouthfeel and layered textures that simply can't be achieved by adding a splash of olive brine to a shaker.”

It’s impossible to remove every last molecule of the fat, but such a small amount will remain that you shouldn’t have any major shifts in the calorie or fat content of the final drink—or spy any oil slicks on top of the drink.

“The boldness and flavor of the olive oil will determine how much you use in the fat wash. If it’s a really rich, full-flavored oil, then you might only need 2 ounces per bottle to wash. I recommend doing some small batches with different ratios until you find the one that suits your preference,” Cacioppo says. 

For instance, in our recipe below, try 1 ounce in one jar, 2 ounces in the other jar, and see which you prefer in the finished product. 

“In addition to fat-washing, olive oil can be used in many ways in cocktails. You can use it along with egg whites in a sour, or you can add a few drops on top of a cocktail as a finishing note to the drink. The fun is in experimenting,” Cacioppo says.

After testing and perfecting this Olive Oil Martini recipe, Cacioppo ultimately added it to the menu at the JW Marriott Nashville’s poolside Cabana Club—an excellent indicator that the final product is supremely refreshing and ready for summer.

Olive Oil Martini Recipe

JW Marriott Nashville

How to Make an Olive Oil Martini

Until you can make a trip to visit Cacioppo in Nashville, he was kind enough to share his signature recipe for you to try any time.

“The cocktail is actually quite easy to make at home. Fat-washing the gin will take a little practice to find your preferred amount and style of wash, but it’s an easy process for seasoned and novice home bartenders alike,” Cacioppo explains.

To make the fat-washed gin, pour one 750-milliliter bottle gin into two 32-ounce mason jars, distributing an equal amount to each jar. (Any gin will do, but Cacioppo prefers Castle & Key Distillery’s Roots of Ruin Gin because “the botanical and floral notes from rosemary, pine, lemon verbena help bring a refreshing feeling to any summer day.”)

Pour 2 ounces of high-quality olive oil on top of the gin in each jar (4 ounces total), add the lids, and shake vigorously. Allow this gin mixture to sit for a few hours, shaking once per hour to mix. Before bed, transfer both jars to the refrigerator. Once the gin mixture is chilled all the way through, use a coffee filter to strain out the olive oil, which should now be thick enough to be caught by the filter. Repeat the chilling and straining steps if needed to thoroughly remove the olive oil.

In a tall mixing glass or cocktail shaker filled with ice, add 2½ ounces fat-washed gin, ½ ounce blanc vermouth (such as Dolin Blanc or Lillet Blanc), 2 dashes of olive bitters, and a pinch of salt. Use a cocktail spoon to stir until chilled, then strain the drink into a coupe or martini glass. Garnish with a sprig of fresh thyme.

The Bottom Line

Olive Oil Martinis are a unique way to shake up your cocktail routine. According to Cacioppo, the drink pro who dreamed up this recipe, fat-washing the gin with a high-quality, flavorful olive oil is a simple way to upgrade the flavors and textures of a classic gin martini—especially for those who are fans of "dirty” (aka olive-forward) martinis.

“Using ingredients like olive oil in cocktails highlights that anything you have at home—whether it is in the bar, spice cabinet, fridge, or pantry—can be used to make a great drink. All you need to do is try and have fun,” Cacioppo says. “Tinker with flavors, amounts and techniques, and you might be surprised to find a new approach to your favorite cocktail that elevates it in a simple way.”

Now that you have another cocktail in your drink recipe arsenal, you’ll be even more prepared to host your next cocktail party. Consider stocking up on some non-alcoholic mixers for a spirit-free twist on this Olive Oil Martini recipe, and to round out the spread, use our appetizers-only dinner party menu as your guide.

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