Just a few pickled onions transform a Gibson Cocktail Martini into a lively Gibson. This is the Gibson cocktail recipe you’ll use over and over.

I don’t know when in my life the onion transitioned from something I just chopped up for cooking into one of my favorite cocktail garnishes. But it’s true, Gibson Cocktail I love a pickled onion—even more so when it’s swimming in my Martini. While the olive and the lemon peel usually get first pick when it comes to garnishing a Martini, adding a cocktail onion (or 3!!) will transform your classic drink into what is also known as the Gibson Cocktail.

Gibson Cocktail with Pickled Onion Garnish
Simply Recipes / Elana Lepkowski

Gibson Cocktail Origins: Multiple Stories

Why does this simple variation on a classic Martini get its name? Well, in the late 19th century in San Francisco…sorry. Unfortunately, that’s where the trail for the cocktail’s history dies off. 

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

You can find a reference for a Gibson in the 1908 cocktail book Gibson Cocktail “The World’s Drinks and How to Mix Them,” but it does not include any garnish and is closer to 50/50 Martini (half gin and half vermouth). The cocktail onion as a garnish started to appear on menus somewhere between the 1930s and ‘40s, and after that, we’ve got the Gibson Martini as we know it today. 

A Classic Gin Martini is the Base for a Gibson

The Gibson can be made just as you make your classic gin Martini. However, if you don’t already have a favorite Martini recipe and technique, I’ll share mine here. As with a classic Martini, a Gibson is traditionally made with gin (although if you’re a strict vodka Martini drinker, feel free to sub that in here), specifically a London Dry style gin that has an emphasis on the juniper flavor profile. If you stray outside of this style, you’ll need to make sure it will work with the pungent briny pickled onion flavor.

I prefer Ford’s gin for this, but if that’s not available where you are, Beefeater is another solid choice. 

Next up is a dry style vermouth. Noilly Prat and Dolin both produce a dry, slightly sweet and bitter French vermouth that enhances the flavor of the gin and onion without overpowering the whole drink.

Gibson Cocktail with Pickled Onion Garnish
Simply Recipes / Elana Lepkowski

A Pickled Onion Garnish? Yes!

Finally, we come to the pickled onion itself. If you pickle your own, absolutely reach for one of those (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 those here in this recipe. 

Local grocery stores may also carry a variety of brands to choose from as well. Just keep this in mind: although it’s considered a “garnish”, Gibson Cocktail the flavor of the onion will most assuredly carry its flavor into your drink. So, if it’s not something you’d consider popping into your mouth to eat when your drink is done, you probably don’t want it sitting in your Martini. Buy something only if you’d eat it!

A Martini Should Be Stirred, Not Shaken

Once you’ve got all your ingredients, grab your mixing glass, not a shaker (a pint glass works well). A Martini should be stirred, not shaken. I’ve been taught by many bartenders that the trick to remembering this is that any drink that is all alcohol should be stirred. 

Save your shaking for drinks that include juice and/or egg whites. When you’re ready to serve, spear a few cocktail onions on a pick and drop that into a coupe (or a “Martini” glass if you’ve got one in your cupboard).

Gibson Cocktail with Pickled Onion Garnish
Simply Recipes / Elana Lepkowski
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Gibson Cocktail

Gibson Cocktail

  • Author: Jeanine
  • Total Time: 3 mins
  • Yield: 1 cocktail 1x


Just a few pickled onions transform a Gibson Cocktail Martini into a lively Gibson. This is the Gibson cocktail recipe you’ll use over and over.


  • 2 ounces London Dry style gin
  • 3/4 ounce dry vermouth
  • 23 pickled cocktail onions, for garnish


  1. Make the cocktail:

    In a mixing glass 2/3 filled with ice, pour in the gin and vermouth. Stir with a mixing spoon or chopstick for 20 seconds. Strain into a coupe or Martini glass.

    Gibson Cocktail Poured into a Glass
    Simply Recipes / Elana Lepkowski

  2. Garnish and serve: 

    Garnish with 2-3 pickled onions that have been speared on a cocktail pick. Serve.

    Did you love the recipe? Leave us stars below! 

    Pickled Onion Garnish Added to Gibson Cocktail
    Simply Recipes / Elana Lepkowski

    Gibson Cocktail with Pickled Onion Garnish and in the Background, Ingredients for the Cocktail
    Simply Recipes / Elana Lepkowski

  • Prep Time: 3 mins
  • Cook Time: 0 mins
  • Category: Beverage, Refreshment
  • Cuisine: American


  • Serving Size: 1 servings
  • Calories: 162 kcal
  • Sugar: 0g
  • Sodium: 7mg
  • Fat: 0g
  • Saturated Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 3g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Protein: 0g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg

Keywords: gibson cocktail, gibson cocktail recipe, a gibson cocktail, dirty gibson cocktail,


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