I always warn cocktail novices that the best way to tell whether a bar takes real Martinis seriously is how olives and onions are stored; if the jars are cooking on the back bar or have been out at room temp for five hours, nix, I say.
I know garnishes recently have been getting their proper due in many bars, but just recently, at NYC’s dell’ anima, by no means a cocktail destination, I had a Martini garnished with some crunchy and tangy house-made pearl onions. Bravo to them for setting the bar higher. Here’s the simplest method known, courtesy of the National Onion Association.
1 1/2 pounds pearl onions, peeled
2 Tablespoons pickling salt
1 1/2 cups white vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pickling spices
4 half-pint canning jars and lids, sanitized
To peel, use a small sharp knife to cut off the root end of the onion. Make a shallow crisscross on the trimmed edge and place the onions into a saucepan. Add water to cover, bring to a boil for two minutes and drain. When cool enough to handle, squeeze onions gently to slip skins off.
Combine 2 cups water and pickling salt; pour over onions in a non-reactive bowl and let stand 12 hours. Drain and rinse thoroughly. Combine vinegar, sugar and pickling spices in a pan and bring to a boil. Pack onions in sterilized, hot half pint canning jars and cover with pickling liquid, keeping .5 inch headspace. Adjust lids and heat jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Makes 4 half-pints.