Beets, fennel, hardboiled eggs—when it comes to pickling, chances are Virginia bartender Todd Thrasher has done it. And while there’ve been a few misses, (“The pickled eggs in beet juice didn’t really go over that well with customers,” he says), his grandmother’s recipe for homemade cocktail onions is the one he still uses behind the bar today. “I wanted to get away from those terrible jarred onions and make something that would complement a cocktail,” Thrasher says. “Plus, it’s a lot of fun to play around with adaptations.” Experiment with Thrasher’s flavor variations, and add a splash of the tangy pickling liquid to the Pick Your Onion Gibson cocktail.
Peel 1 lb. of pearl onions.
Combine 1 quart of distilled Champagne vinegar, 3/4 quart of warm, filtered water, 2 cups of white sugar and 2 Tbsp. of kosher salt; mix until completely dissolved.
Tie 1 Tbsp. of pickling spice (found at most supermarkets in the canning aisle) n a sachet of cheese cloth and place in vinegar solution.
Add the onions, making sure they are completely covered with liquid and bring to a boil for only one minute (it’s important to limit the boil to just one minute, otherwise they will lose their crunchy texture).
Take off heat, transfer onions and liquid to a clean glass jar and let cool overnight, covered at room temperature. Will keep refrigerated for up to 2 months.