Another classic: The Gibson/photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman

Another classic: The Gibson/Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman

The creators of last week’s cocktail on fat-washed spirits, schmaltz, and rye, noted that the onion (which worked perfectly with the schmaltzy rye) recalled a Gibson. Loving the interconnectedness of cocktails, that is the choice for today’s Friday Cocktail Hour. The Gibson is a martini garnished with onion, and I like to underscore the difference between it and a martini by adding some of the pickling liquid. Because it features gin, use a good gin such as Beefeater, my fave. Same vermouth ratio as a martini, 20%, though vary this according to your tastes.

Do you hear anyone asking for a vodka Gibson? Do you hear bartenders, upon being asked for a Gibson, respond, “Vodka or gin?” I think not.

This is a serious cocktail with a sweet-sour-onion garnish, reflecting the serious and bittersweet recognition that it is Labor Day weekend and summer deliquesces.

The Gibson

  • 80 grams
  • 16 grams
  • 10 grams
  • Pickled onions for garnish

or by volume

  • 2.5 ounces gin
  • 1 tablespoon vermouth
  • 1 teaspoon pickle juice
  • Pickled onions for garnish
  1. Combine all ingredients but the onions in shaker, fill it with ice, and stir or swirl for 60 to 90 seconds.
  2. Strain the cocktail into a cold martini glass.
  3. Prepare for fall.

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© 2013 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2013 Donna Turner Ruhlman. All rights reserved.



14 Wonderful responses to “Friday Cocktail Hour: A Gibson”

  • Mark

    Hate to nitpick, but Roger Sterling (listed in the cultural reference section of the wikipedia page) makes his Gibsons with Stoli!

      • Tags

        Fret not, it’s just product placement. In the world of non-fiction, no ad man worth his salt would drink a “Stoli Gibson.”

  • Edsel

    They make a lovely Gibson at The Redhead in New York. The garnish is McSweets onions (really excellent). It’s finished with a dusting of finely-ground black pepper from a little brass mill. Slight bit of heat, marvelous aroma.

    • Elsewhere

      McSweet onions (from Seattle) are wonderful, I’ve bought them online. Sounds like The Redhead does an excellent job.

  • Elsewhere

    My favorite cocktail, summer or winter (hough I can’t tell you how many time in years past I’ve had to explain what a Gibson is, or else watch them make a gimlet thinking that must be what I meant).

    Mr. R., how about a recipe for pickled onions? There are few store brands that are acceptably good, but I’d love to be able to adjust my “pickling” level.

  • allen

    My wife likes this, I prefer a martini, which the Gibson is not – it’s a Gibson because there is no friggin olive!
    I am guilty of adding a small pickled green cherry tomatoe to my martini skewer, next to the olive, co mingling and rendering it into something other than a martini. And I enjoyed it.

  • Allen

    This Friday I am enjoying a good book Ruhlman recommended, its relaxing and enjoyable like a good cocktail.
    Finally finding time while on vacation to read a book that I’ve had for a while, one that I found too intimidating to start when I found out the author wrote poetry.
    In the book A Common Room is a short letter – A Letter To A Young Writer, the author, Reynolds Price writes ” most people lead lives which they perceive as hard, in there moments of freedom, they are not likely to choose further degrees of hardness” , like trying to read poetry.

    A cocktail would be most appropriate for my simple mind, but this book is an appreciation for the written word, and even I find it enjoyable, pleasure to read, wishing I had more time to do so.

    If you have not read any of his books, seek him out and don’t be intimidated, not snobbish at all, very easy to read if you have the time, his love of writing is very contagious. Pure pleasure.
    And of course cheers, happy Friday all!

  • Charles Curran

    A Gibson is a ‘Dry or Extra Dry’ martini. So ditch the Vermouth.

  • Allen

    Washington state wheat gin is “nasty crap”, like Jim Gaffigans fruit cake – tonic water can’t help it, forget a martini!
    Go with Oregon 12 Bridges or Ransom Old Tom for northwest gin.
    Making bad gin is an international tragedy, it should be a felony and is clearly a fuckin crime!

  • Victoria

    We use Tipsy Onions, Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth, and Plymouth (always Plymouth, only Plymouth) for our gibbons. I am going to see if I can find McSweets – they sound good – and pickle some of my own.

    Wouldn’t a jar of your own pickled onions, a bottle of dry vermouth, and a bottle of gin be a great present for your host or hostess?

    What’s with the vodka everyone?

  • Craigkite

    When I sat down to my first dry martini with my future father-in-law I thought that I was finally a man. A few years later he introduced me to a well made Gibson and I thought I was finally a gentleman.