Love a dirty martini but not all the booze? This is the perfect non-alcoholic martini recipe. It’s balanced, nuanced, briny and just as flavorful as a full-strength martini. Pair a non-alcoholic gin with some non-alcoholic vermouth, a dash of bitters and some brine and you’ve got a virgin martini worthy of any snob.
Why You’ll Love This Virgin Martini
Mocktails and low-abv cocktails are getting better all the time and that is largely due to the non-alcoholic liquor market getting better and better. No crazy potato-infused liquid needed here. Instead, this virgin martini uses quality non-alcoholic gin, vermouth, bitters and a combo of brines to create a balanced and nuanced martini.
- No prep required: there are some recipes out there that call for making potato-infused water or herb-infused water. There are so many NA gin products on the market these days so that’s what we’re using here.
- All the flavor, none of the booze: this recipe is dirty, slightly bitter and just herbaceous enough. If you like a good dirty martini, this is for you!
Just like regular booze, not all non-alcoholic gins are created equal. And in fact, most non-alcoholic gins actually need to be mixed with tonic water to unlock their flavors and to truly taste like gin. This is true for products like Seedlip, Optimist and Ceder’s.
However, there is one product on the market that does not need to be mixed with tonic and makes a great virgin martini, and that’s Pentire Adrift. Pentire has notes of the sea along with citrus, sage and herbs. And if you like gin and tonics, it does pair well with tonic.
It’s hard to find a non-alcoholic vermouth, let alone a good one. My favorite non-alcoholic vermouth is from Roots. They’re a great company and the product is outstanding. In a pinch you can use Seedlip Spice 94.
I was skeptical about spending money on non-alcoholic bitters. You add so little to a drink does it really matter if it has alcohol or not? The answer is no. But my question now is why do bitters have to have alcohol in them? The trio of bitters from All the Bitter are incredible. Full of flavor and not missing a thing. I’ll be adding them to all kinds of things—club soda, full-strength cocktails and the virgin martini we’re making today which uses the New Orleans-Style Bitters.
Onion and Olive Brine
Do you really have to use both cocktail onion brine and olive brine? Yes. Ten times over, yes. If you’re going to skip one, skip the olive brine. Cocktail onion brine adds *something* that really takes this over the top and gives the drink depth and nuance. It’s key—so is the olive brine, so use both.
- Keep the non-alcoholic gin, non-alcoholic vermouth, and brines chilled until ready to serve. When it comes to mocktails, and especially virgin martinis, you want to keep the dilution to a minimum. By starting with chilled ingredients you will slow the rate of ice melt and retain a full-flavored non-alcoholic martini.
- Chill the martini glass or Nick and Nora glass you plan to serve the cocktail in. As the saying goes, “don’t be a poop, chill me coupe.” If a cocktail is served up (aka no ice), the glass should be chilled to prolong the cold temperature of the drink as long as possible.
Making a Low Abv Martini
Now I know you’re here for a virgin martini, but I do want to mention, if you’re into low-abv cocktails then you’ve gotta try this recipe with non-alcoholic gin and regular extra-dry vermouth. I find this to be the best of both worlds—lots of nuance but not too boozy.
How to Store Non-Alcoholic Liquors
Most products will say how to store them once opened. I have found most non-alcoholic liquors, amaros, Apéritif and liqueurs will last up to 12 weeks at room temperature once opened.
More Non-Alcoholic Cocktails to Try
Try the process of milk clarification and make a non-alcoholic milk punch using cranberry juice. (There’s also a full-tilt version made with rum in the recipe card.)
Combine espresso and tonic water to create a—you guessed it—Espresso Tonic! It’s caffeinated, bitter, and just slightly sweet.
- Add non-alcoholic gin, non-alcoholic vermouth, onion brine, olive brine, and non-alcoholic bitters to a mixing glass.
- Add a handful of ice and stir to chill.
- Strain into a chilled Nick & Nora glass or martini glass and garnish with a cocktail onion or olive.
- Add non-alcoholic gin, non-alcoholic vermouth, onion brine, olive brine, and non-alcoholic bitters to a cocktail shaker.
- Fill shaker partially with ice, secure lid, and shake vigorously until chilled.
- Double strain into a chilled Nick & Nora glass or martini glass and garnish with a cocktail onion or olive.