The Bean That Chefs Put In Martinis For A Salty Boost

Martinis come in many different shapes and forms, whether you prefer gin or vodka, sweet vermouth or dry vermouth. The possibilities are endless. But the greatest star of the show in any martini is the garnish. Whether you fancy a lemon twist, hearty bleu cheese-stuffed olives, or a pearl onion (though, that puts us into Gibson territory), the aim of the garnish is to cut through the boozy beverage and lend a savory or zesty quality that isn't found in many other cocktails.

While the olive may the star of the show, have you ever considered the legume family as a source of extra flavor in your martini? One Toronto-based Portuguese restaurant, The Golden Peacock, is combining gin, dry vermouth, and you guessed it — lupini bean brine, according to Taste Toronto. Dubbed charmingly the "Lupini-tini," the unique martini is not quite like any other. But while The Golden Peacock uses the bean's brine as a flavor booster, one chef suggests popping an entire bean in the cocktail instead.

In an interview with Food & Wine, Nemo Bolin, professional chef and "Chopped" winner, recommended using a lupini bean to shake things up, so to speak. He said, "Lupini beans are a tasty salty snack and are really good dropped into a martini when you need a stiff drink in your life." Here's why this preserved bean is a great garnish for a new twist on the old martini.

What does a lupini bean taste like?

Never heard of a lupini bean before? Here's the gist — lupini beans are part of the pea family and look sort of like a combination of corn kernels and lima beans. They've been around for centuries, before Ancient Rome even, according to Food & Nutrition. While the bean is known for its bitter taste, farmers have created sweeter variants in recent years. You may be able to find the dried version at your local grocery store, but if not, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean markets will likely have them. 

For martinis specifically, you want to consider the pickled and brined variety because the beans take on extra flavor with brining. According to Food Republic, brined lupini beans are both spicy but also a bit buttery. This makes them perfect for cutting through the potent flavors of classic vodka or gin martinis. Unlike the classic olive, you don't have to worry about clumsily discarding pits or worrying about the various stuffings as many pickled or brined lupini beans come ready to eat. As a garnish, just drop one into the finished martini, and if you like a dirtier drink, try adding a bit of the brine to the shaker for a punchier cocktail.