kelly magyarics

washington, d.c.-based wine, spirits, travel & lifestyle writer / wine educator


The Gibson

Last Friday evening I had the pleasure of trying some drinks at my friend Derek Brown's new "secret" bar The Gibson. It's located at 14th and U Street, next to Marvin. Only a black door and the address 2009 marks it--there is no sign. But the word is already out there. When we walked up, there was a party of 6 or 7 trying to get in. They were instructed to head next door to Marvin until a table was ready. Luckily, we were on the list and were ushered in to 2 prime spots at the bar--the perfect location to watch the magic happening behind the bar...

Another blogger posted the menu here. It's divided into sections for Vodka/Gin; Rum/Tequila; Whiskey/Whisky; Brandy/Other Spirits; Bubbles; and red and white wines. If you go, remember that the star is the expertly crafted cocktails, not just the "speakeasy" factor.

I started with the Salad Days Sour, which turned out to be our favorite drink of the evening, with Celery-Infused Macchu Pisco, lemon juice and celery bitters, topped with burnt ground cinnamon in a straight line going across the drink. It was fresh and frothy and perfectly balanced, and the cinnamon gave it a sweet/savory kick at the end. (It also smelled wonderful when they were burning it while making the drink.) My husband started with the Rhum Manhattan. Since we're not big whiskey fans, this drink was a nice alternative to the traditional Manhattan. But it still packed a potent punch.

For the second round, I tried the London Special Variation, with Beefeater gin, Ramos White Port, a Champagne float and bergamot syrup. The aromatics of the gin and bergamot partnered very well, and the Champagne added a refreshing effervescence. Mike was looking for something on the rocks (all the other drinks we tried were up), and opted for the Tequila Orchard--Partida Reposado, Domaine de Canton, apple juice, lime and aromatic bitters, served in a tall glass with crushed ice. Hit the spot perfectly--apple and ginger are a great match for the reposado.

The Gibson is strikingly beautiful inside, with countless attention to details. I especially liked the leather-topped bar, and thoughtful hooks on the underside of the bar for bags and coats. I look forward to seeing how the menu will evolve with Derek's libation inspirations.