On a dreary rain-soaked night in the heart of U Street, I was buzzed into The Gibson. Well, as befits a speakeasy or “secret bar,” first I was let into a ratty little foyer where my reservation and legality were confirmed with brisk efficiency by a tweedy doorman. Then he smiled broadly.
“Welcome to The Gibson,” he said, opening the inner door and ushering me into a jewel-box of a bar.
Deep blue walls, mirrored panels set off by ebony wood, red velvet banquettes, and really funky ceiling fixtures are highlights of the interior. Yet the overall effect is simple, with room for maybe no more than fifty people all together, at the long bar or side booths or tables in a back room. Reservations are highly encouraged – if there isn’t space, you can’t stand around at the bar and there won’t be a line at the door.
As far as speakeasies go, The Gibson isn’t really that difficult to find, but it does want to maintain a degree of mystery. I’m fine with that, as it encourages a quiet, romantic (dare I say adult?) evening in the company of people who love cocktails with a passion unrivaled.
The cocktail menu at The Gibson, designed by ace mixologist Derek Brown, is neatly divided by main liquor element and features a mix of imaginative drinks and variations on the classics. Or order your usual cocktail from the bar and see how they put their own twist on it.