Lemon-Scented Cocktail Onions Recipe


This recipe is adapted from a recipe that Todd Thrasher provided to Imbibe magazine. I've moderately increased the amount of onions, and decreased the quantity of brine that the recipe produces.

I've also cut way down on the amount of sugar. Thrasher's recipe creates a sweet-sour pickle, and I'm not a fan of those. I feel that the onions are sweet enough on their own, and the vermouth I've added brings its own sweetness to the party. Feel free to use more or less sugar to your taste.

You can make a cheesecloth sachet to hold the spices, herbs, and zests, and then remove and discard the sachet after the onions are boiled. I prefer to keep the spices and herbs in the jars with the onions.

I've added lime zest and fresh thyme, both of which work well in cocktails. The result is a bright, citrusy onion that tastes fantastic in a Gibson.

The recipe calls for distilled white vinegar, but you can also use white wine vinegar, Champagne vinegar, apple-cider vinegar, or a blend; experiment!

Recipe Facts

Active: 45 mins
Total: 0 mins

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  • 1/4 teaspoon whole coriander seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon juniper berries
  • 1/4 teaspoon white peppercorns
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • zest of one medium lemon
  • zest of one small lime
  • 12 ounces distilled white vinegar
  • 12 ounces water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 pound peeled pearl onions (if frozen, thaw before using)
  • 1/2 cup dry white vermouth


  1. Combine coriander seed, juniper berries, white peppercorns, thyme, lemon zest, lime zest, vinegar, water, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. Heat over low heat and stir until salt and sugar dissolve, about five minutes.

  2. Add onions. Bring to a boil; allow to boil for just one minute, and remove from heat.

  3. Cool to room temperature. Add vermouth and stir to combine.

  4. Remove onions and pickling liquid to a jar. Leave at room temperature for 1 hour, and refrigerate overnight before using.

Special equipment

medium saucepan, canning jars, strainer

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