Classic Savory Gibson Martini Recipe

Published October 19, 2021
Classic Gibson Martini



  1. Chill a martini glass or coupe.
  2. In a mixing glass, add ice, gin, and dry vermouth.
  3. Stir rapidly to chill.
  4. Strain into chilled glass.
  5. Garnish with cocktail onion.

Variations and Substitutions

Like its cousin the classic martini, there aren't many changes you can make to the proportions or number of ingredients without altering the martini entirely. But there are still a few options.

  • Add a single dash of orange or lemon bitters for a slight citrus flavor.
  • Use less vermouth for a drier martini.
  • For an even drier martini, rinse the glass with dry vermouth then discard the vermouth.
  • Try different types of gin: London dry, Plymouth, Old Tom, or Genever.


What makes a Gibson martini a Gibson martini is the garnish. Without that, it's a classic martini. However, you can add some options.

  • Add a lemon peel alongside the cocktail onion.
  • Add a few olives alongside the cocktail onion.
  • Consider skewering blue cheese stuffed olives with cocktail onions.

About the Gibson Martini

There are a few theories about the origin of the Gibson martini. In one story, a bartender took on the challenge of improving the classic martini and decided to cheekily use the cocktail onion as a garnish, that being the only change. Another cites a San Francisco bar as the source, as early as the 1890s.

As time has gone on, some bartenders use it as a signal that the martini in the glass is very dry, using it as a quick means of communication and distinguish them from their cousins. But however it came to be, Gibson martinis are remarkable.

An Onion? No Way

Don't be deterred by the signature onion garnish. Unlike typical red or white onions, cocktails onions have a savory-sweet taste, the pickling process taking away the bite. While you may still be too squeamish to sample them on their own, once they've been soaking in the gin, they're a tasty nibble at the end of a Gibson martini. For another great variation on a martini, learn what a dirty martini is and how to make one.

Classic Savory Gibson Martini Recipe