Gibson Drink Recipe

Posted in Cocktails, Gin, Martinis on January 16, 2014


gibson gin recipe


The Gibson Cocktail
-2 oz Gin or Vodka
-1/2 oz Vermouth
-Pickled Pearl Onion(s)

As I stated in my previous post on the Martini, garnishes play a pretty big role in the Martini, and will either make or break the drink. A Martini with an onion instead of an olive is different enough from the classic olive martini that it earns itself a unique name in of itself.  Of course, the gibson, like any other Martini, is a mixed drink made with gin and vermouth, but vodka is a sufficient substitute.

There are multiple origin stories behind The Gibson, and as far as apocryphal tales go, it is likely that none of them are true. However, origins stories for drinks are still pretty fun to discuss time to time. The most popular origin story is that there once was a merchant named Gibson, who would go out with colleagues and clients for lunch where they would drink together.  Gibson didn’t wish to become inebriated and end up as a poor negotiator or do something embarrassing. So, being the resourceful man that he was, he had the waiter bring him a glass with water in it instead of a Martini. To mark his from the others, he took it with an onion instead of an olive so that he would always negotiate sober.

Then there’s another story about how a random bar-goer named Charles Dana Gibson challenged a bartender named Charley Connolly to improve upon the old school Martin recipe. As a pretty biting and sardonic fellow, the bartender looked him in the eye, rolled his eyes in exasperation, and swapped out the olive for an onion and offered it to his customer. Personally, the onion isn't that big of an improvement for me, nor is it an improvement at all but it certainly is something different.

In all likelihood, it is probable that the Gibson started off as a very dry martini garnished with an onion to distinguish them from old school martinis, but as dry martinis came in to popularity as the standard Gin:Versmouth ratio, the onion became the only thing separating a Gibson and a classic Martini

Anyway, let’s talk taste — The Gibson is a tad sharper than the standard Martini, and biting into onions at the end makes for a pretty distinct and unique experience from that of an olive.  A Gibson isn’t a bad drink when it comes to my tastes, but it’s simply not as good as the classic. The olive and the lemon have stood the test of time, and so the Gibson comes as a runner-up to the classic Martini.  However, if you prefer your Martinis a little dry, then the Gibson is the drink for you.

Mix the Gibson like you would the Martini, but use onions for garnish instead of olives.   As a garnish, the onion enhances the "dryness" factor of the Martini, so just go to town and use high Gin:Versmouth ratios.  Shake your Gibson if you're making it with vodka, and stir it if you're making it with gin. As usual, kick back, take a sip, and enjoy your cocktail.

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