The Salty Ingredient To Beef Up Your Martini Is A Favorite In Chinese Food

For those who like it dirty — or, dare we say, even filthy — getting an optimal martini can be difficult. Olive juice usually has a good dose of the salty, briny goodness dirty martini lovers are after, but it also adds non-boozy volume and a significant wateriness to the drink, which can overwhelm the vodka, gin, and vermouth. How's a connoisseur to deal with this? It's actually pretty simple. Instead of pouring out a full jar of precious olive juice, take a leaf out of Chinese cuisine's book and add a pinch of MSG to your next martini. 

Monosodium glutamate, most commonly referred to as MSG, is a flavor-enhancing chemical compound that not only kicks up the salt factor, it actually brings vivid umami taste to everything it touches. That makes it a perfect addition to a dirty martini, especially in conjunction with some good old-fashioned olive brine. But MSG can also be added to martinis that have a citrus twist, since it just boosts the flavor notes further. Truly, MSG is the martini fan's secret weapon. 

Is MSG safe to use in a martini?

Despite the fact that it's been unfairly maligned for years, MSG is not a dangerous chemical, and is considered absolutely safe to eat. Of course, moderation in all things can only be a positive — but that goes for your martinis as much as it does MSG. The fear of MSG is mostly due to racist rhetoric against Chinese-American restaurants; people felt symptoms of bloating and indigestion after eating at these restaurants and blamed it on the MSG found in the food. These claims have ultimately been found to be baseless. 

MSG is, in fact, a naturally occurring chemical compound found in tomatoes and cheese. Over 100 years ago, Japanese scientist and professor Kikunae Ikeda learned how to extract the compound and recreate it. In the blink of an eye, people were using MSG to add a savory punch to just about everything. MSG is often included in chips, seasoning blends, condiments, and deli meats — and that's just for starters. A little pinch in your martini shouldn't cause any adverse health reactions, just add a wonderfully umami-rich kick to every sip.