Gibson martini

by Angela Clutton

A classic cocktail with an elegant pearl onion garnish

Tiny pearl onions are lightly pickled for an elegant cocktail garnish with real bite. Their classic use is in the gibson martini, where a little of the brine is added into the drink too. Both the onions and the brine can also be very useful in the kitchen for cooking with.

For more on garnishes, read Angela’s latest blog


For the pickled onions:
250g pearl onions, the smallest ones
200ml white wine vinegar
9 juniper berries
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1 fresh bay leaf
1/4 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1/4 tsp whole black peppercorns
2 tbsp caster sugar
2 tsp fine salt
2 broad strips of orange zest
75ml dry vermouth

For the gibson martini:
75ml gin
2 tsp dry vermouth
3/4 tsp cocktail onion brine
Cocktail onions

1 x 500ml capacity storage jar, sterilised 


Peel the onions by immersing them in a bowl of boiling water for 1 min. Drain them, trim off their tops and bottoms, and the skins should slide off easily. Set the peeled onions aside.

Put all the other pickling ingredients except the vermouth into a pan. Heat gently until the sugar has dissolved, then add the onions into the pan for 1 min. Take off the heat and allow to cool. Add the vermouth and transfer it all to a clean jar. Seal and store in the fridge. They will be ready to use in 1 week and will keep for months.

To make a gibson martini, fill a cocktail tin (or tall glass or jug) with lots of ice. Pour over the gin, vermouth and the brine from the jar of cocktail onions. Stir over the ice for 1 min and then strain into a chilled glass. Garnish with a cocktail onion dropped into the glass, or three on a cocktail stick.

Recipe: Angela Clutton
Image: Orlando Gili