The Gibson’s Spring Cocktail Menu is in Full Bloom

Written by Meghan Milloy and Andrea Muffoletto

The Gibson – a speakeasy in DC’s U Street Corridor – is renowned for serving authentic, Prohibition-era cocktails with a twist. While the ingredients are always fresh and true to what was available during the 1920s, each season the Gibson creates an intriguing new menu with ingredients that are at their peak. We went to the Gibson for a preview of their new spring cocktail menu, and, with each sip, we savored the wide range of delectable flavor combinations that are now available to the public.

“Josephine” – a mix of cognac, banana liqueur, vanilla, all spice dram, mint leaves, decanter bitters, and an egg – is surprisingly light and refreshing. Neither of us particularly love “banana-flavored things” but this was delicious.

While the cocktails are certainly creative, with a price tag of $12 to $22 per drink, is the Gibson’s spring menu worth it? Hell yes.

“Brooklyn Zoo” – chili-infused sherry, Cocchi Rosa, grapefruit, lemon, pineapple syrup, grapefruit bitters, and soda – will transport you to somewhere tropical. It starts off with some tang and finishes with just the right amount of heat.

We sampled 10 cocktails from the spring menu and 3 punches available year-round on the Gibson’s beautiful patio. The cocktails are mixed so masterfully that they may even convince those who have sworn off a particular type of liquor to reconsider – a theme we heard from multiple guests during our tasting. Rather than using ingredients that mask the liquor’s flavor, the Gibson leverages those that compliment it. Yes, you can love gin again!

“All the Queen’s Men” – blended scotch, sloe gin, Cocchi Rosa, and grapefruit – is fresh yet warm; a smoky spin on a greyhound with a pleasant bite from the Cocchi Rosa.

Some of our personal favorites were:

  • Brooklyn Zoo – chili infused-Sherry, Cocchi Rosa, grapefruit, lemon, pineapple syrup, grapefruit bitters, soda
  • All the Queen’s Men – blended scotch, sloe gin, Cocchi Rosa, grapefruit
  • I Wonder if I Take You Home – rye, Genever, orgeat, Cynar, old-fashioned bitters
  • Amerikana – Bonal, Dolin Blanc, orange bitters, soda
  • I’m Remy. You’re Nicki. – Laphroaig 10, Averna Amaro, maraschino liqueur, Creme de Violette, Peychaud’s Bitters
“Amerikana” – Bonal, Dolin Blanc, orange bitters, soda – is surprisingly smooth, easy drinking – maybe to a fault.

But, frankly, everything was good. Even though we tasted 13 drinks, we barely even scratched the surface of the Gibson’s 50+ drinks on the menu. We can’t wait to get back to try some of the others like “Water” and the “R.I.P. EPA” shown below. You really can’t go wrong here.

“Water” – dry sherry, Batavia Arrack, gin, brandy. Photo courtesy of Frankie Jones.
“R.I.P. EPA” – dill aquavit, Genever, honey, lemon, orange flower water, absinthe. Photo courtesy of Frankie Jones.

Now, if you’re going to taste as many cocktails as we did, you’re going to need some snacks. Order a few patio bites. For a speakeasy that dedicates so much time and effort to its cocktails, we were pleasantly surprised with how delicious and inventive the Gibson’s food menu was.

The shrimp tostadas are a dollop of fresh guac, with a peeled, steamed shrimp, topped with salsa and cilantro all atop a light, but sturdy corn tortilla chip. You definitely can’t eat just one…

There are plenty of vegetarian options including the mushroom quesadillas, grilled cheese, mac ‘n’ cheese, avocado toast, chips with everything bagel dip, and marinated olives and almonds.

The mushroom quesadillas are packed with white cheddar cheese and thinly sliced mushrooms and topped with a rich salsa.

But meat eaters, don’t fret. The Gibson has carnivorous treats aplenty, including the jerk chicken skewers, along with Chinese BBQ ribs, deviled eggs with bacon, and the Gibson half smoke.

Jerk chicken skewers with a cucumber yogurt sauce are tangy and satisfying – you’ll be transported to the islands, mon.
The Chinese BBQ Ribs are dressed in soy, peanuts, and scallions and fall right off the bone.
Last, but not least, the deviled eggs are perfectly bite-sized with a little bit of pepper relish and a piece (or two if you’re lucky) of smoky bacon.

In addition to the 28 cocktails available year-round, the Gibson’s 27 seasonal cocktails are offered throughout the spring. Get your hands on some of these drinks before they’re gone, and be sure to make a reservation online so you’re not stuck waiting outside in line!

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