Cocktail Recipes

Caramelization Brings Out Onion's Sweet Side in This Gibson Martini Riff

When we asked barman Jason Wood* (formerly of the trendsetting Vera and now a bar consultant extraordinaire) to riff on a classic martini, his mind immediately went to the Gibson.

cocktail being strained

The Gibson, in its modern form, is a dry martini garnished with pickled pearl onions instead of the more traditional olives or lemon peel. At its basest, the onions are of the squishy, sinewy variety from jars fortified with sodium bisulfite. At the drink's zenith, the onions are crunchy, pickled from scratch, and suspended in ice cold bath of quality vermouth and London dry gin. 

caramelized onions

Like its martini muse, Woods' Lethal Weapon is decidedly savory, but it also plays to onion's sweet side by subjecting the humble allium to transformative caramelization  and introducing liqueurs to the mix. And just like the Gibson, it's killer with a fat steak. 

copper bar tools

Lethal Weapon

Yield: 1 cocktail

1 1/2 ounces vodka
1 ounce gin
1/2 ounce Breckenridge Bitter Liqueur 
1/4 ounce cognac-based orange liqueur 
2 heaping bar spoons of caramelized onions

Add ingredients to cocktail shaker. Fill with ice and shake to chill. Double strain into a chilled coupe.  Garnish with black pepper.

pepper cocktail


Jason Wood, former bar manager of the trendsetting Vera, has been a bartender for close to 20 years. He now consults for bars in Buffalo and beyond. Wood also works as a brand ambassador for Highland Park and Macallan scotch, Brugal rum, and Fortaleza tequila. 

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