The earliest bartending guide is attributed to Jerry Thomas, who aptly named it “Bar-tender’s Guide or How to Mix Drinks” The language used throughout the book indicates that garnishing cocktails was a common practice at the time, including peels and twists.
Legend has it that the garnish called, a “Gibson” originated out of necessity. Mr. Gibson, a banker, would take his clients out for a three martini lunch. Hoping to avoid the embarrassment of drinking too much, and to ensure he stayed sober, he would ask the waiter to bring him water in a martini glass garnished with a silverskin onion. His clients would continue to drink and he was guaranteed to close a deal in his favour. Today, we make a Gibson just as though you would a martini, but with an onion instead of an olive, oblivious to the original non-alcoholic intention of this garnish.