Gibson Cocktail
Gibson Cocktail

Just a few pickled onions will turn a martini into a lively Gibson. This is the Gibson cocktail recipe you’ll use again and again.

I don’t know when in my life the onion went from something I just chopped up to cook into one of my favorite cocktail garnishes. But it’s true, I love a pickled onion—even more so when it’s swimming in my martini. While the olive and lemon zest are usually the go-to choice when it comes to garnishing a martini, adding a cocktail onion (or 3!!) transforms your classic drink into what’s also known as a Gibson cocktail.

Gibson Cocktail Origins: Multiple Stories

There are several origin stories: all with gentlemen named Gibson all trying to improve their martini cocktail, and not a single one for which we have definitive, verifiable proof of authenticity.

There is a reference to a Gibson in the 1908 cocktail book The World’s Drinks and How to Mix Them, but it doesn’t come with a garnish and is closer to a 50/50 martini (half gin and half vermouth). The cocktail onion accompaniment made its appearance on menus sometime between the 1930’s and 40’s, and after that we have the Gibson martini as we know it today.

A classic gin martini is the basis for a Gibson

The Gibson can be made just like making your own classic gin martini. However, if you don’t already have a favorite martini recipe and technique, I’m sharing mine here. As with a classic martini, a Gibson is traditionally made with gin (although you’re a strict vodka martini drinker, feel free to subscribe to that), specifically a London Dry-style gin that emphasizes the juniper flavor profile. If you deviate from this style, you need to make sure it works with the pungent, salty pickled onion flavor.

I prefer Ford’s gin for this, but if that’s not available there, Beefeater is another good choice.

Next comes a dry vermouth. Noilly Prat and Dolin both produce a dry, slightly sweet and bitter French vermouth that enhances the flavor of gin and onion without overwhelming the drink as a whole.

A pickled onion garnish? Yes!

Finally, we come to the pickled onion itself. If you pick your own, be sure to grab one (I will when I have them). If you’re looking for store-bought, mezzetta can be found at many larger liquor stores, and I use these in this recipe.

Local grocery stores may also carry a variety of brands to choose from. Remember: even though it’s a “garnish,” the flavor of the onion will certainly carry its flavor into your drink. So unless you wouldn’t consider eating into your mouth when your drink is ready, you probably don’t want it sitting in your martini. Only buy something if you would eat it!

A martini should be stirred, not shaken

Once you have all the ingredients, grab your mixing glass, not a shaker (a pint glass works well). A martini should be stirred, not shaken. A lot of bartenders have taught me that the trick to remembering this is that every drink is Everyone Alcohols should be stirred.

Save the shaking for drinks that contain juice and/or protein. When ready to serve, skewer some cocktail onions and toss them into a coupe (or “martini” glass if you have one in your cupboard).

Make these classic cocktails

  • Manhattan cocktail
  • french martini
  • Gin fizz
  • Mezcal mule
  • Tom Collins

Gibson cocktail

preparation time
3 minutes

total time
3 minutes

1 serving

1 cocktail


  • 2 ounces London Dry style gin

  • 3/4 ounce dry vermouth

  • 2-3 pickled cocktail onionsfor garnish


  1. Make the cocktail:

    Pour gin and vermouth into a mixing glass 2/3 filled with ice. Stir with a mixing spoon or chopstick for 20 seconds. Strain into a coupé or martini glass.

  2. Garnish and serve:

    Garnish with 2-3 pickled onions skewered on a cocktail stick. Surcharge.

    Did you like the recipe? Let’s star down!

nutritional information (per serving)
162 calories
0g Fat
3g carbohydrates
0g protein
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Hello everybody, Even if you're limited on time and money, I believe you can prepare wonderful food with everyday products. All you have to do is cook cleverly and creatively!