From bright-pink onions to dressing up a classic Gibson to crisp vegetables to garnish a Bloody Mary, pickling is an easy way to add vibrancy to drinks. Brine plus time also can yield delicious, crunchy cocktail hour snacks, or even colorful jars for holiday gifts.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nWilliam Tsui, bar director at Oakland\u2019s Viridian, began pickling melon rinds, leftover beets and other food scraps to minimize waste. He found the pickles gave drinks \u201cmore dimension, more pop.\u201d Today, pickling is a key focus at his bar.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\u201cWhat\u2019s great about pickles is you can provide acidity and depth to a cocktail,\u201d Tsui says. \u201cIt\u2019s such a bright, affirmative flavor.\u201d\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nHis advice for newbies: Pay attention to the brine. Most start with vinegar, water, sugar and salt, but spices, herbs, chile peppers, citrus and other seasonings make a bold difference. Tsui adjusts his depending on the season or intended drink use, such as autumnal sweet spices for pickled apples or savory touches like rice vinegar and fish sauce to pickle shitake mushrooms to accompany a peated Scotch cocktail.\r\n\r\n\u2018Ultimate Gibson\u2019 Onions in Hibiscus Brine\r\nCourtesy of\u00a0Liam Davy, group bar director, Hawksmoor, London/New York City\r\nStir together 3 cups rice vinegar, 2 cups caster sugar and \u00bc cup kosher salt until sugar and salt dissolve. Add 3 tablespoons dried hibiscus flowers and infuse for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Strain through muslin or other fine material. Strain brine from 8-ounce jar cocktail onions.\r\nRinse onions under cold water and return to jar. Cover with hibiscus brine. Steep for at least one week.\r\nUse them in a Gibson\r\nThis streamlined brine featuring dried hibiscus gives a pleasingly rosy hue to pickled onions. At the Hawksmoor, a London-based steakhouse group that opened a New York City outpost in fall 2021, the \u201cUltimate Gibson\u201d is made with a half-teaspoon of the hibiscus brine, added to a Martini along with a single, pink-brined onion for garnish.\r\n\r\nPickled Apples in Baking-Spice Brine\r\nCourtesy of William Tsui, bar director, Viridian, Oakland, CA\r\nCombine 2 cups apple cider vinegar, 2 cups pear vinegar, 1 cup Champagne vinegar, 3 cups water, 2 cups sugar, 1 cup salt, 4 cinnamon sticks, 1 teaspoon allspice, 3-star anise, \u00bc teaspoon ground clove, \u00bd teaspoon vanilla extract (optional) and 5 thin-sliced apples in a large container.\r\nStir until sugar and salt have fully dissolved. Cover and allow to steep for one week, refrigerated. Can be refrigerated for up to 2 months.\r\nUse them in a Gold Rush\r\nAt his bar, Tsui often combines fresh and pickled apple slices in a fan formation, secured with a cocktail pick, as an element of surprise. Vanilla is optional, but adds mulling spice\u2013like sweetness, if desired. In addition to a bourbon-based Gold Rush, drinks made with Calvados or other apple brandies will be a good home for these pickles.\r\n\r\nPickled Cucumbers in Lemon-Herb Brine\r\nAdapted from Cocktails, Mocktails and Garnishes from the Garden, by Katie Stryjewski (Yellow Pear Press, 2020)\r\nIn pot, combine 2 cups Champagne vinegar, \u00bd cup sugar, \u00bc cup water and 1\u00bd teaspoons salt. Bring to simmer. Stir in 1\u00bd teaspoons mustard seed, 1 teaspoon coriander seed, 1 teaspoon peppercorns, 2 sliced cloves garlic and 1 sliced lemon. Remove from heat and cover, until cooled completely.\r\nPour brine into jar and add cucumber slices or anything else you\u2019d like to pickle. Let sit at room temperature for 2 hours, then transfer to refrigerator overnight.\u00a0\r\n\r\nUse them in a Martini\r\nThis versatile herb-laden brine is ideal for adding zing to vegetables, Stryjewski says. Try it with cucumber slices, baby carrots, green beans or other produce. The end result will be colorful and mild enough to complement any variation on a Martini. Alternatively, pile a selection into a small bowl for nibbling on the side.\r\n\r\nPickled Watermelon Rinds in Mezcal-Chile Pepper Brine\r\nCourtesy of Puesto, San Diego\r\nCut watermelon rinds into 1-inch by \u00bd-inch pieces. Put 2 cups in large container with 1 tablespoon chopped manzano or habanero chile pepper. In pot, combine 6 cups water, 3 cups apple cider vinegar, 3 cups sugar, \u00be cups salt, 2 tablespoons allspice berries, 2 teaspoons coriander seeds and zest of 1 orange.\r\nBring to boil. Pour over watermelon and chiles. Allow to cool. When cool, add \u00bc cup mezcal. Weigh watermelon down so it will stay submerged and refrigerate for at least 1 day.\r\nUse them in a Margarita\r\nOriginally created for Puesto, a group of Mexican restaurants in Southern California, this colorful accompaniment adds piquancy to grilled meats or as a garnish for any sort of margarita.\r\n\r\nTomatoes in Honey-Horseradish Brine\r\nAdapted from Beyond the North Wind: Russia in Recipes and Lore, by Darra Goldstein (Ten Speed Press, 2020)\r\nRinse 2 pounds cocktail or Campari tomatoes; remove stems. In medium saucepan, combine 2 cups water, \u00bc cup salt, \u00bc cup honey, 4 large peeled and smashed cloves garlic, 1 tablespoon allspice berries, \u00bc teaspoon black peppercorns, 2 bay leaves and 3 whole cloves. Bring to boil then reduce to simmer just long enough to dissolve salt. Remove from heat and let cool, then add 6 cups water. Sterilize 1-gallon jar. Layer in tomatoes, 5 horseradish leaves, 6 black currant or celery leaves and 3 dill stalks (including flowering heads).\r\nPour brine over all. To keep tomatoes submerged, fill resealable plastic bag with water and place on top of them. Cover jar with cheesecloth secured with a rubber band, and leave to ferment at room temperature for 3\u20134 days. Skim off any foam that forms. Transfer to refrigerator. Keeps, refrigerated, for several weeks.\r\nUse them in a Bloody Mary\r\nPickling fruits and berries in brine is a classic preservation technique in Russia. This particular brine yields \u201cever-so-slightly sweet\u201d tomatoes, Goldstein says, which she serves as an accompaniment to roast meats, but they also can be speared and stacked as an edible drink garnish. She also recommends this brine to pickle lingonberries, watermelon or apples.