Eric "ET" Tecosky was deeply in the weeds one Monday night behind the stick at Jones Hollywood after a group of about 40 Hollywood types came in and ordered dirty martinis. The million dollar idea came to him: Why has nobody thought of bottling pure olive juice?
"I had to to go in the back of the bar, open another jar of olives with booze all over my hands, and what would have normally taken me a few seconds took me a few minutes."
And that's how "Dirty Sue"—the first bottled olive juice made purely for use in cocktails—came to be at Jones Hollywood. The small company recently celebrated its ten-year anniversary and its juice is available at thousands of bars across the US, but you can still catch Tecosky serving one hell of a dirty martini at the place where it all began.
"Back then, it was truly a 'dirty martini' because you had to use your hand to strain the juice out of those really low-quality olives from the gallon jugs," he says. "It was truly a disgusting drink to make."
Ever since he started bartending 26 years ago, Tecosky always knew that there just had to be a better way to make a dirty martini. When he got hired at Jones, he figured out a temporary, more sanitary solution by filling squeeze bottles with olive juice. However, another dilemma then surfaced: The olives rotted because he would go through their brine much faster than the olives themselves.
So he called every olive farm and importer he knew to see if it was possible to just order olive brine. It turned out to be a challenge, since he couldn't find an olive farm big enough to supply the amount of olive brine that he needed. "I almost gave up and thought, That's why no one does it! It's just not possible to source the juice alone."
On his very last attempt, he contacted a family olive farm in California that imports olive barrels from Spain. They said yes.
The brine is made with grade-A Spanish green olives, and Tecosky describes it as "a thicker brine that is olive-forward with that bite of salt that people like, yet fruity at the finish." He claims that shots of his olive brine have saved him from many a hangover, on top of being an excellent ingredient in bloody mary and micheladas. I believe him, since he looks much younger than his 47 years.
"All that brine has kept me pickled, too," he jokes.
Dirty Sue has received many positive remarks from some of the most respected bartenders on the scene. Even Jeffrey Morgenthaler said it helped him prepare "the most consistent, clean, delicious dirty martinis" he's ever made. The biggest compliment came from Dale "King Cocktail" DeGroff, who said that Dirty Sue is the best olive brine you can use in a cocktail.
"That's like Marlon Brando telling you that you're a great actor!" Tecosky gushes.
Tecosky probably has no business still pouring Jack and Cokes at Jones Hollywood, but he continues to bartend because it reminds him of why he fell in love with it the first place. "It's one of the few jobs where you can change someone's outlook in life, just like that. I love taking that extra second to make people feel happy, especially right now as our world is getting crazy."
He just signed a deal to distribute Dirty Sue in all 50 states next month, but he's still as chill and humble as the first day he started bartending.
"I guess you can say we're an overnight success, ten years later."