Sherry-Pickled Cocktail Onions 25.000

Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

Spirits Feb 26, 2014

In the Gibson, a martini variation in which olives are replaced by pickled onions, the garnish is a fundamental part of the cocktail's flavor.

This adaptation of a Todd Thrasher recipe brings the usual brine and adds the flavor and fragrance of sherry to pearl onions. (For the cocktail, try a 2-to-1 gin-to-dry vermouth ratio, and add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of the onion brine.)

Make Ahead: The onions (in their brine) can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

25 - 30

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 25-30 servings

  • 10 ounces (1 mesh bag) small white or red pearl onions (25 to 30 per bag)
  • 2 cups sherry vinegar
  • 3 cups warm water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon pickling spice (a combination of mustard seed, cinnamon, whole allspice, dill seed, celery seed, bay leaf, whole cloves, caraway seed and ginger)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup medium dry sherry


Peel the onions. Don't worry if you lose an outer layer; you want them to be bite size.

Combine the vinegar, water, sugar and salt in a large saucepan over low heat, stirring until the sugar and salt are dissolved.

Tie the pickling spice, black peppercorns and lemon zest into a cheesecloth sachet, then add it to the saucepan, along with the peeled onions.

Increase the heat to medium-high; once the mixture starts to boil, cook for 1 minute, then remove the saucepan from the heat. Cool completely, leaving the spice sachet in the liquid.

Transfer the onions and 2 cups of the liquid to a 1-quart glass container. Add the sherry and seal tightly. Shake gently to incorporate.

Use right away, or refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

Rate it

Recipe Source

Adapted from a recipe by Todd Thrasher, general manager and sommelier of the EatGoodFood Group.

Tested by M. Carrie Allan.

Email questions to the Food Section.

Email questions to the Food Section at