A Grilled Onion Martini: Kirk's Gibson - Imbibe Magazine Subscribe + Save

Kirk’s Gibson: A Grilled Onion Martini

Eugene Lee, bar manager of Big Bar in Los Angeles, loves Gibsons but felt like an opportunity was missed with the onion garnish. For his Kirk’s Gibson, named after 1988 LA Dodgers Kirk Gibson, he makes full use of the onion, not only grilling the white pearl onion and using it to make a brine but infusing bianco vermouth with grilled white onions. The result is a Gibson Martini fully realized for onion lovers, especially when served, as Lee suggests, with a bowl of Korean Funyons.

For gin, Lee uses Ford’s Officers’ Reserve. The drink “is truly designed around the Ford’s being pot stilled and having a rich, sort of oilier quality that runs down your midpalate,” he says.


  • 1 1/2 oz. gin (Lee uses Ford's gin)
  • 1 oz. navy-strength gin (Lee uses Ford's Officers' Reserve)
  • 1/2 oz. caramelized onion bianco vermouth
  • 4 drops grilled onion brine
  • ___________________
  • Grilled Onion Bianco Vermouth
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 whole white onion
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 750ml bianco vermouth
  • ___________________
  • Onion Brine
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup champagne vinegar
  • 1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. black peppercorn
  • 4 Tbsp. salt
  • 2 whole Korean chilis (or 1/2 Tbsp. Korean gochugaru)
  • ___________________
  • Grilled Onion Garnish
  • 50 white pearl onions
  • About 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • Tools:mixing glass, barspoon, strainer, saucepan, large mason jar
  • Glass:coupe
  • Garnish:BBQ pearl onion, optional: Korean Funyons served in a little Dodgers helmet


Add all the ingredients to a mixing glass with ice, stir to chill, and strain into the glass. Express a lemon peel across the top and discard.

Grilled Onion Bianco VermouthRough chop the onion. Heat up saucepan to medium with olive oil. When hot, add onion and a pinch of sea salt. Toss until caramelized. Remove from heat and add to container with bianco vermouth. Soak for a minimum of 20 minutes. Strain the infused vermouth into a bottle and refrigerate. Can keep in refrigerator for a month.

Onion BrineAdd all ingredients to a pot on low heat. Simmer and stir constantly for 10 minutes. Allow to cool and transfer to a large mason jar. Can keep in the refrigerator indefinitely.

Grilled Onion GarnishAdd the white pearl onions to boiling water and boil for 1 minute. Strain out the onions and dunk them in a ready ice bath to cool. With a knife, chop the nub off (not too much). Use a knife to make a small slit vertically across the onion enough to peel the first layer. Note: They can also be popped out by squeezing the opposite end, but that will lose too much onion and the “full, round ‘baseball shape.” Once the onions have been peeled, coat in olive oil and, whether by open flame (a grill) or blowtorch, char all around. Add to brine and let it sit for a minimum of 2 hours then strain out.

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