The Clarence House Gibson recipe, courtesy of The Duke of Clarence

Clarence House Gibson

The recipe we have here comes courtesy of Steve McDermott, The Duke of Clarence’s bar manager — and it’s a banger.

  • 50 ml Bombay Sapphire Gin
  • 10 ml fino sherry
  • 10 ml pickled onion distillate  
  • 5 dash rosemary tincture
  • 5 dash rosemary smoked sea salt saline
  • 1 barspoon smoked pickled onion brine
  1. Stir over good ice, strain into a frozen Martini glass.
  2. Garnish with a smoked pickled onion — make sure the drink is ice cold, please.

Recipe from The Duke of Clarence, Sydney


There are dozens of Martini variations out there — here’s just 7 to put in your face should you wish — but one of the most criminally undervalued variations, we think, is the Gibson recipe.

Essentially, the Gibson recipe is a Dry Martini with a pickled cocktail onion for garnish, and we’re big fans. But the first written Gibson recipe seems to go back to 1908 in Cocktail Bill Boothby’s The World’a Drinks & How To Mix Them, and it’s missing a crucial ingredient.

And funnily enough, what we’d consider the defining trait of the Gibson — the cocktail onion as garnish — doesn’t appear until much, much later on in time (even up to 1930’s The Savoy Cocktail Book, there was no such garnish; Craddock instead opted for a citrus peel squeezed on top). Boothby’s recipe — and it’s echoed by most later recipes — is a simple equal parts drink of gin and dry vermouth (as opposed to the more common sweet vermouth at the time). Interestingly, Boothby specifies that there are no bitters to be used in the drink, as was common in Martini making at the time.

So that’s a little nugget of Gibson cocktail lore. But who cares for history, when the drink is this good? Especially when it’s a Gibson like the one they make at The Duke of Clarence in Sydney. There, they’re making their own pickle distillate, smoking their pickle brine, and crafting tailor-made tinctures to lift the drink from Martini variation to a Martini-we-must-have-right-now.

They’ve also adopted one of the ingredients of another classic Martini variation, the Flame of Love, using fino sherry in the recipe to enhance the savoury character of the drink.

The Gibson recipe we have here comes courtesy of Steve McDermott, The Duke of Clarence‘s bar manager (if you like this recipe, take a look at the ale cocktail specs he shared with us here).