Gibson Cocktail

Rating: 5.0/5. From 1 review.
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Cocktail Type


Great for

Dinner Party



Gibson Martini with skewered cocktail onion garnish

The Gibson cocktail is one of the best Martinis you’ll ever taste! To make one, you’ll be stirring together your favorite gin, decent dry vermouth, and ice. Strained and served in a chilled coupe glass and garnished with a pickled cocktail onion, this one is a classic!

This Gibson cocktail recipe is the same one that was on everyone’s lips thanks to the multi-award-winning Netflix series, ‘The Queen’s Gambit.’ But we’ll give you the juicy details on that later! Let’s have a drink first.  



Make your own signature cocktail onions. It’s super easy!


Stir, don’t shake! If you shake this martini, it gets too diluted.


Having friends over for chess/games night? Make the Gibson Cocktail your signature drink.



1 Person

2 Oz

60 Ml

2 Parts

0.5 Oz

15 Ml

0.5 Parts

Cocktail onions, skewered



Pour all the ingredients to an ice-filled mixing glass 


Stir for around 30 seconds until chilled 


Strain into a chilled coupe 


Garnish with cocktail onions and serve

What’s in a Gibson cocktail?

The Gibson cocktail ingredients are exactly the same as those for a classic Gin Martini, but instead of olives, you’ll use cocktail onions as garnish. It might seem like a small change to an already delicious recipe, but this tiny twist makes the Gibson cocktail recipe one of the best Martinis you’ll ever taste. Like ever! Which, by the way, is high praise for a cocktail competing with legends like the epic Dirty Martini and the iconic James Bond Martini. So, make sure you do this simple 2-ingredient cocktail justice and use quality ingredients.  

There’s very little vermouth in this recipe, so the gin has got to shine! We chose Bulldog for its strong botanical flavor. Made with poppy, dragon eye, lavender, and citrus, this smooth-tasting gin is bold enough to stand out on its own. 

On the vermouth side of things, you’re after one thing: It’s got to be dry! The classic Gibson cocktail is all about those mouth-watering savory flavors. So, we chose Cinzano Extra Dry Vermouth to get that perfectly subtle umami balance. It has a crisp and slightly bitter finish that blends beautifully with the gin and onion. Delicious! 

How to make a Gibson cocktail

If you’re planning on impressing your friends with this trendy Gibson cocktail, here are a few tricks to keep up your sleeve.  

  1. Make your own signature cocktail onions. It’s super easy. All you’re going to do is make a brine, warm it in a saucepan and add pearl onions. Let it simmer briefly (around 2 minutes), then remove it from the heat. Once it’s at room temperature, scoop the onions into a jar, pour in the brine, and seal with a lid. Pop it in the fridge for a week before using it in your Gibson cocktail.   
  2. Make the best cocktail onion brine with half a cup of white vinegar, ¾ cup of dry vermouth, a few tablespoons of sugar, a tablespoon of salt, and flavorings of your choice. Lemon peel, herbs, chili, and coriander seeds are all great options.  
  3. Stir, don’t shake! If you shake this martini, it gets too diluted. This baby is best served stirred to give the gin and vermouth a chance to show off. Is anyone thirsty yet? 

The history of the Gibson cocktail?

The story of the Gibson cocktail is pretty shady, but the most dependable version is this one. Apparently, it was invented by a businessman named Walter D.K Gibson. He believed that eating onions prevented colds, so he started adding them to his Gin Martini.  

Yeah, we don’t think this story shouts “drink me,” either. But this one does.   

The Gibson we’ve come to love is the one that features heavily in ‘The Queen’s Gambit.’ For those who haven’t seen it, this epic historic (and entirely fictional) drama on Netflix stars Anya Taylor-Joy as a chess prodigy named Elizabeth Harmon.  

Set in the 1950s and 60s, she steps up the ladder of competitive chess, and she does so with a Gibson by her side. Turns out Beth quite likes drinking—and hats off to her because she checkmates loads of chess players throughout the series. She has loads of Gibson Cocktails, and you’ll see them make an appearance in almost every episode. And boy, does she make them look good. Is anyone bursting to try these yet? We bet you are. So, we suggest inviting over your friends and hosting a chess and Gibson evening.   

Is the Gibson cocktail just a Martini?

Well, yes, and no. The Gibson cocktail recipe uses the same ingredients as a classic Gin Martini but swaps out the olives for cocktail onions. Like we said: small twists, big change!    

Do you eat the onion in a Gibson?

The best part about the Gibson is that little cocktail onion twist. This small change transforms the cocktail and makes it less olive-briny and more onion-earthy. The highlight is biting into one of those crunchy, tangy pickled onions. The acidity hits you immediately, and then it calms down as you take a sip of your drink. It is absolutely delicious. Be warned. This really might become your new favorite martini!   

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