I have never been a dirty martini drinker. In fact, it’s probably the last drink I would think to order off a menu since, in many instances, it’s not a drink most bartenders can get creative with. However, the dirty martini took on a new life for me at the newly opened restaurant-meets-marketplace Sunday in Brooklyn, where its version comes with either vodka, gin or tequila prebottled with in-house brines.

Partner Adam Landsman explains that by using “the brine from the various fermented vegetable​​s​ in the kitchen​, we are showcasing creative drinks that ​are quick to make and​ can be done at home.” As an example, for Sunday in Brooklyn’s preserved tequila dirty martini, chef Jaime Young brines guajillo chiles for almost a week, leaving behind an intensely sour and salty mixture. Kevin Denton, who created the restaurant’s cocktail list, then balances this residual brine with a batch of tequila, dry vermouth and water to create the proper dilution level before bottling and chilling for service. The chiles are also blended for the restaurant’s homemade hot sauce, which is sold on the market.

Upon your ordering this drink, the bartender will pop the cap off a small, chilled bottled and simply pour the martini into a Nick & Nora glass, a reminder of the good old days of martini lore. By batching and bottling in advance, Denton can ensure the proper balance of sourness, salt, spirit and any overtones from the vermouth, which evolve together as the drink gently warms in the glass. With the current resurgence of preservation and fermentation techniques in kitchens, it’s great to see the benefits of this “cold fire” also appearing in cocktails.

The team at Sunday in Brooklyn has very kindly shared their full process for fermentation and the cocktail’s creation below to encourage people to try it at home. Take a look.

Tequila Dirty Martini

Servings: About 12 cocktails

1000-mL bottle Altos Blanco Tequila
12 ounces guajillo brine*
8 1/2 ounces Dolin dry vermouth
5 ounces water

*For the guajillo brine: 

  1.  Bring 2/3 tablespoon salt and 1/2 cup water up to a boil. Let it cool to room temp.
  2. Pour over 11 ounces dried guajillo chiles in a food-safe container.
  3. Allow the mixture to ferment at room temperature on a countertop for 4-7 days. Warmer days should be faster. Make sure the final brine tastes sour.
  4. Strain and reserve the brine for the cocktail. Blend the chiles for a homemade hot sauce (Sunday in Brooklyn combines this with another pepper, Indian cashmere, and its house pickling liquid).
  5. Guajillo brine produces 4 1/4 cups of hot sauce and leftover brine.


  1. Combine chile brine with tequila, vermouth and water in a large container.
  2. Bottle, cap and chill for later use.

Prep time: 1 week
Difficulty: Moderate