Bar Food: Time to Set Your Olives on Fire

By Jan Newberry |

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There are people who drink Martinis because they crave the steely taste of ice-cold gin, and those who think the classic cocktail lends them an air of sophistication. Then there are those who order a Martini for no other reason than an opportunity to gnaw on a fat spirit-soaked olive—or three. This recipe from Dustin Beckner, the chef at the Denver jazz club Nocturne, is for those kinds of drinkers.

The dish demands a careful—but fearless—cook who won’t back away from a flame-filled frying pan. Stand close, be brave and do not flinch. The flames extinguish themselves in less than a minute.


Serves 6

  • 1/4 cup Extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 8 oz Drained Castelvetrano olives
  • 2 sprigs Fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 cup Gin, preferably Spring 44

In a frying pan set over high heat, warm the oil until it is almost smoking. Add the olives, and cook, shaking the pan occasionally, just until the olives begin to blister and brown, three to five minutes. Add the rosemary.

Pour the gin into the pan. If you are working on a gas burner, it should light on fire. If you’re cooking on an electric range, light the gin with a match. Let cook until the flames die out, about one minute. Pour off the oil and any juices in the pan.

Transfer the olives to a serving bowl and let cool to room temperature. Drizzle with more extra-virgin olive oil just before serving.

Jan Newberry has been writing about food for more than 25 years. She is the co-author of several cookbooks, including The Brown Sugar Kitchen Cookbook, Bar Tartine and the forthcoming Gjelina.

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