While Washington’s food scene continues to evolve and thrive, our District’s bar scene could use some work. There are plenty of restaurants with great bar programs—but only a few bars, speakeasys, and beer gardens. There used to be one beer garden: Garden District—formerly known as the standard. Now, there are three: the Garden District, Dacha, and Biergarden Haus. There used to be one speakeasy: The Gibson. Now, there are three: The Gibson, Harold Black, and Two Birds, One Stone.
Grumbles aside, I’ll happily partake in wine drinking and cocktailing in what our fair city has to offer. So, I saddled up to the bar last weekend, on All Hallow’s Eve no less, to sample the new fall menu at the Gibson.
The Gibson is every bit as dark, sexy, and posh as I remembered. With black walls, leather booths, the narrow space is lit with candles and dimmed Edison light bulbs. It’s a perfect spot for a date, or a catch-up cocktail with your long-term suitor. On this occasion, I gathered four friends at the bar to sample the Gibson’s menu.
In addition to a traditional Old Fashioned, the Gibson also serves the Caroline, a pineapple, slightly sweeter variation on the Old Fashioned. The cocktail is made with Bourbon, Pineapple syrup, Allspice dram, and Old Fashioned bitters. As its sweeter, it goes down more smoothly—a great option for a whiskey girl who struggles to drink a strong cocktail.
Another notable cocktail is “The Truth”, as it’s probably the most unique cocktail on the menu. The 90 Proof cocktail is made with Laphoraig (a smokey, petey single malt scotch), Green Chartreuse (which comes from a secret monk’s recipe), Amburana Cachaca (the Brazilian liquor used in mojitos), Apple Jack, Campari, and Orange Bitters. That’s a lot of unique liquors in one martini glass, my friends, and the flavor was unlike anything I’ve sampled.
Several cocktails were set on fire and served in martini glasses—people love a good show. If you have to pick one, go for the blood orange tequila cocktail, the “Romeo is Bleeding.” The drink is was made with Tequila, Mezcal Vida, Punt e Mes, Conton, Cocchi Rosa, and Orange Bitters. It’s sweet, but it’s good.