Tecosky is the man behind Dirty Sue Premium Olive Juice, which has changed the way bartenders and everyone else make Dirty Martinis.
Please give us a little background about how you got into the bar/spirits business.
I moved to LA right after college to pursue a business idea with an old friend. That didn’t take and I needed a gig. A few days later I was leaving a birthday party at a nightclub and asked the bartender if they were looking for any help. Nothing was available at the time, but he asked me to come back with a resume. The next day I brought a resume filled with bars I had drank at in college – I had never worked in a bar before. As luck would have it, the barback got fired the night before and they hired me.
Why bottled olive juice? And why the name Dirty Sue?
At Jones (and most bars), the Dirty Martini is a top-selling drink. We would always run out of the juice before the olives, which left us with olives drying out and spoiling. One night I was behind the bar by myself and a fairly large party came in. One of a barrage of drink orders being yelled at me was a Dirty Martini. At the time we kept our juice (from the jar) in a squeeze bottle. The bottle was empty, as was the olive tray. When I ran to grab the jar, I found that it was full of olives but totally out of juice.
Any bartender reading this can relate to what happened next: I had to leave the bar with orders piling up, get a new jar, struggle to get it open and make the drink. A task that should take no more than 30 seconds instead it took about 10 minutes. After the rush settled I said to a co-worker, “How come no one bottles olive juice?” Before the question fully landed, I left the bar again to do an Internet search on olive juice. When I couldn’t find anyone in that business I started to do some investigating.
It took about a year to find a good source for a high quality olive juice, put together a recipe and get some samples ready to go. One of the initial moments that made it all worthwhile was working at Jones and making a Dirty Martini for a customer. She mentioned how good the drink was and I showed her the bottle of Dirty Sue. She laughed and said another bartender had done the same thing at a different bar a couple weeks prior. As the brand was pretty new, I assumed it was a friend of mine that was pouring Dirty Sue. Turns out it was a bar in Northridge that I had never heard of and they just happened to carry my brand and really liked it. Definitely a ‘proud papa’ moment.
As for the name Dirty Sue, it’s not as scandalous as it sounds. I was kicking around some ideas and definitely wanted the word ‘dirty’ to be part of the name to make the connection with a dirty martini. I also wanted something catchy so people would just order it by name like an Old Fashioned or Margarita. I looked at my bike – an old school looking beach cruiser. There was a pin up girl on the frame and the name was painted, “Flying Sue” like an old WWII style airplane. I said “Dirty Sue” out loud and loved the sound of it. I kept the pin up girl as well and all the initial artwork just kind of fell in line with that. I always planned for the brand to have a look that was more classic than trendy. For me there is a better sense of stability and trust in that style of design.
Tell us a bit about the history of the Dirty Martini?
The history of the Dirty Martini is a little fuzzy. I read once that FDR liked a touch of olive juice in his Martinis. I’ve never read or heard otherwise, so I will give him all the credit. I’m not quite sure how it gained popularity, but I guess if it’s good enough for the President, then it’s good enough for everyone else. Not to mention, they taste really good!
You’ve recently moved into bottled garnishes, which seem like a natural progression. What inspired you to make that your next move?
It was very natural and something I had in the back of my mind since I started. In the same way Dirty Sue olive juice is a higher quality version of what people had to settle for with the juice from a jar, I wanted to do the same thing with garnishes – offer a superior product. We’ve done that with our new line. Part classic – pimento olives, blue cheese olives and garlic olives and then part classic with a new twist – jalapeño stuffed onions and feta stuffed pepperoncini.
What is the response from the bartending community and the public?
When I first launched Dirty Sue I geared sales toward the bar world as that it where I thought my biggest market would be. The reaction was always the same – “I can’t believe no one did this before.” It caught on pretty quick in LA. In the beginning my bar gig financed the whole project. But as Dirty Sue grew in popularity, I brought on some investors to help the brand expand. As soon as I got a couple write-ups I began getting emails and phone calls from home consumers. They had the same issue we had in bars. They used up all the juice in the olive jar, which left them with spoiled olives. I’m no genius but it seemed like a good idea to get into the retail side of things. Now our business is split pretty much down the middle between bars/restaurants and retail.
- 1 1/2 oz. El Jimador Tequila Blanco
- 1/2 oz. Cointreau
- 1/2 oz. Fresh Lime Juice
- 1/2 oz. Fresh Grapefruit Juice
- 1 oz. Agave Syrup
- splash of Dirty Sue premium Olive Juice
Preparation: Shake over ice and strain into a chilled rinsed (after glass is chilled, add a splash of Dirty Sue. Swirl the brine around and remove excess glass. Garnish with grapefruit twist.
For more information, visit DirtySue.com