Nothing whispers class and sexiness like a Martini. It’s the quintessential drink for a casino, formal dinner, or evening ball. Whether you normally like your martini dry, wet, or dirty, you can’t miss spicing it up with some pickled onion and making a classic Gibson Martini.
What Is a Gibson Drink?
Simply put, a Gibson Martini is like your regular Martini but garnished with a skewer of pickled onion instead of the traditional lemon twist or olive.
It’s different from your classic gin Martini. While it doesn’t necessarily pack a stronger punch, it does hit you with a much more bitter, acidic taste.
The Martini aficionados out there will know how radically different two identical gin Martinis, one garnished with lemon and one with olive, will taste, and this is no different with the Gibson. So if you’re used to your bog-standard drink (and there’s nothing wrong with that, the Gin Martini is a timeless classic for a reason), try mixing it up and give a Gibson a go.
What’s In a Gibson?
So, in short, a Gibson Martini cocktail is a simple mix of gin and vermouth, garnished with a pickled onion.
Simple, right? Well, it’s not quite that easy.
As any good bartender will tell you, the Martini is pretty much a blank canvas for the drinker to paint whatever flavors and balance they want on. With choices of sweet or dry vermouth, gin or vodka, and an endless tinkering of the ratio, each martini can taste.
When we’re talking variations, the standard gin, vodka, wet, dry, and perfect all apply to the Gibson as much as they do to the standard Martini.
Firstly, you have a choice of a gin or vodka base. While these clear spirits may seem to be worlds apart, they’re actually incredibly similar, and so both make a brilliant Gibson Martini.
Gin is, at its core, vodka infused with any selection of herbs and botanicals, and, as long as one of those is juniper, it’s a gin.
Using vodka as your base will give your Martini a sharper, cutting, taste compared to gin. It’s a little more direct to the tongue without all the herbs and botanicals and high-quality vodka is great at providing the alcoholic kick, and then taking a backseat and letting the flavors of the vermouth and garnish shine.
Gin, on the other hand, provides a much more complex palate without compromising on the strong, alcoholic taste of the Martini. Different gins will uniquely compliment different vermouths, meaning wherever you go you’ll get a slightly different Martini every time.
Now the base spirit is cleared up, on to vermouth.
Vermouth is a type of Italian fortified wine. Essentially, it’s wine infused with herbs and botanicals and then distilled to make it a touch stronger than your regular glass of Chardonnay.
When it comes to Martinis, you may have heard the terms wet, dry, and perfect. Most Martini recipes will call for dry vermouth, the Gibson drink is no exception, and this is where it sounds a little bit counterintuitive.
A wet Martini is one with more dry vermouth. A dry martini is one with less dry vermouth. And a perfect martini is one made with equal parts sweet and dry vermouth.
You can have your Gibson wet, dry, or perfect but I’d recommend keeping to the variants using only dry vermouth, as this best compliments the flavor of the pickled onion. How wet or dry you have it is purely down to personal preference.
Experiment with your Gibson Martini and find your Goldilocks ratio!
How To Make a Gibson Cocktail: A Fantastic Gibson Martini Recipe
Now the nitty-gritty of what’s what and how much of everything you should use, it’s time to give you the Gibson Martini recipe.
Remember, play around with the ratios if this doesn’t quite hit the spot, the Martini is easily the most personal of all drinks.
Step One: Prepare Your Ingredients
As always, start by chilling your martini glass with ice. Then, add 2 ounces of dry gin and ⅓ ounce of dry vermouth to your mixing glass.
Step Two: Stirred, Not Shaken
Fill the mixing glass with ice and stir with a bar spoon.
Shaking a martini dilutes it too much and takes away the flavor and the punch that you’re looking for with this iconic drink.
Discard the ice chilling your glass and double strain to keep the drink as smooth as possible. We don’t want little flecks of ice diluting your cocktail.
Step Three: Gibson Garnish
Here it is, the signature: the skewer of not one, but two pickled onions. This is going to give your Gibson Martini a much more bitter taste than a lemon twist or olive skewer, and that’s exactly what we’re going for.
So it’s simple really. You know what a Gibson Martini cocktail is and how to make an absolutely fantastic one.
The ratio of gin to vermouth in this recipe is quite dry at 6:1, so experiment and find your preference. Make it drier and then make it wetter and just see what floats your boat (or pickled onion in this case). However you make it, it’s an exciting Martini variation that’s sure to impress friends and guests alike!
I started bartending in 2017, just 4 days after my 18th birthday, at a cocktail bar in my hometown. I immediately fell in love with the art and science of mixology and have since worked in bars across Yarm, York and Liverpool in England.