The Gibson

This briny gin cocktail from days long gone is a classic.

The Gibson gin cocktail is easy. Three simple ingredients, and the option to make this gin cocktail as “dirty” as you like. Traditionally done with brined pearl onions, add your choice of pickled garnish – be it olive, fig, or pepper.

As it turns out, there’s a ton of folklore about how the Gibson was created. My favorite story is that of a businessman named Gibson, in the late 1800s, who believed that pickled onions warded off colds. Most likely, pickled onions simply ward off kisses.

The Gibson with onions. So many delicious and salty pickled onions.

The Gibson might be a “classic”, but what the hell, make it your classic.

How to make the briny Gibson gin cocktail:

The Gibson

The classic gin cocktail, the Gibson, is three ingredients strong and packs a whollop of flavor and brine. Travel back to pre-prohibition and enjoy this gin classic.


  • 2 parts Gin
  • 1/2 part Vermouth ***make it dry vermouth for a more pungent flavor, use sweet vermouth if you like that lollipop sweetness. Use more or less to your liking.
  • 57 brined onions Not really 57, unless you LOVE the brine. One or two is just fine.


  • Chill you cocktail glass. The freezer, with ice, or upside down in a vat of ice cubes.
  • Find the fanciest cocktail stirring glass you can and add your gin and vermouth.
  • Add about 1/2 cup ice.
  • Stir. Hopefully, that part's obvious.
  • Strain into your martini glass.


You have the option of adding vermouth to the glass and swirling around, then tossing the excess if that’s your preference for a more gin forward cocktail.
Do be aware of the brined pearl onions that you add, some are swimming in sweet vermouth and will add too much sugar to your cocktail. Unless you’re into that.
For brine weirdos out there, two things. One, I salute you. Two, pour a little brine in your cocktail stirring glass with your gin and vermouth. Or a lot of brine.

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Change things up with your Gibson!

There’s not a whole lot you can do you make your Gibson different – as then you would just be drinking some version of a Martini. So make a change in the garnish – going for anything pickled, except for maybe pickles.

I enjoyed a lovely Gibson in Italy with pickled figs. You could also go for something like pickled red onions (?), pickled peppers (mild or hot), or even pickled okra. Which is the only way to eat okra, for Pete’s sake.

For some reason, it’s common practice, for “good luck”, to garnish your cocktail with odd numbers of onions. Like 57.

You might also like a briny and salty Gin Martini.

the gibson gin cocktail
The Gibson – gin cocktail with some briny pickled goodness.