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Gibson Cocktail Recipe

May 07, 2018 | Post By Danny Mahoney
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The Gibson is a sophisticated cocktail made out of gin and vermouth, and is still very popular in certain circles to this day.  This is rare considering many of the other cocktails that were created decades ago do not appear to have the same longevity, however the drink is still referenced in popular culture to this day.

Image of Gibson   Drink

The cocktail was already a staple by 1908, when the drink appeared in the definitive The World’s Cocktails And How To Mix Them by William Boothby.  This recipe is what immortalized the drink as having an onion as a garnish, although variations of the cocktail existed before 1908.  In these previous iterations, the cocktail either had no garnish, or a citrus garnish, which was pretty standard at the same time. However, the onion is what makes the drink so unique.  As with many cocktails, the origins of the cocktail are still unclear.


  • 2 ½ ounces of gin
  • ½ ounce of dry vermouth
  • Cocktail onions


  1. Pour the gin and vermouth into a cocktail shaker over ice.
  2. Shake well.
  3. Strain into a martini glass.


  • Cocktail shaker
  • Martini glass

The drink has several origin stories.  One is that someone with the last name Gibson actually introduced the cocktail to the Bohemian Club in San Francisco in the 1890s, and used onions as a garnish because he believed that they prevented colds. The other story is that the drink was essentially created as an alternative to the martini, and the onion helped it become a novelty drink, until it eventually became popular on its own because its unique taste.

The cocktail is garnished with anywhere from one to three silverskin onions. It should also be noted that vodka lovers often substitute the gin in the drink for vodka. Another story about the drink is that it actually emerged from people who didn’t want to drink, and used the onion garnish to distinguish their drink – which was water instead of gin or vodka.  There are two stories, one involving an investment banker and one involving a diplomat, where the story is that these people wanted to maintain sobriety, while still giving the appearance of drinking. The onion garnish helped them distinguish their drink among others, so that they could ensure their sobriety. Regardless, the Gibson still has a respectable name around the world in terms of cocktails.  Enjoy one today!



Photo of Danny Mahoney

Danny is a Melburnian liquor enthusiast and ex bartender turned web developer. Although an avid whiskey drinker he likes to practice the arts of cocktail making and mixing drinks. Danny believes there are always new concoctions just waiting to be explored and enjoyed.


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