I finally made it to the Gibson last night, and it was a perfect place to celebrate the first day at my new job. Making reservations for 9, when I arrived I was somewhat surprised to find that not every seat at the bar was full. I thought no matter the day or time, this place would be packed (or as packed as a bar can be when it has a no standing policy). I liked though, the uncrowded feel.
The Gibson, with it’s expensive, fancy, and complicated cocktails, was a place I expected to find a bit of pretension, but I was surprised to almost immediately feel comfortable and relaxed in the little booth next to the bar I was seated at. Perhaps because it is so small, so intimate, that it felt more relaxed. I found the atmosphere nearly devoid of pretension.
Now, the important part: the drinks. My companion and I tried four cocktails:
- First Snow – which sounded lovely (vodka, muscat syrup, white cranberry juice, lime, champagne) but however tasted mostly like champagne. I tried my best to pick up on the subtler flavors of cranberry or lime, but it pretty much felt like drinking champagne. Pleasant, but not what I was expecting.
- Jackelope – a real winter drink (bourbon, American-oak infused maple syrup, lemon, orange). The fun part was the waitress took an orange peel, took a lighter to it, and awakened all of the essences hiding in the zest. She then swept it around the rim of the glass and put it in the cocktail. The booth smelled pleasantly of orange for a few minutes afterwards.
- Brunswick Sour – strangely delicious (white rum, lime, Merlot float). I ordered this mostly to see what a Merlot
float was, and somehow, the Merlot was suspended above the rest of the drink, maybe it’s differences in density, high school Physics was a long time ago (or at least feels like it). Regardless, the result was great, it was tangy from the lime, sweet yet complex from the Merlot, the combination was unexpectedly pleasing.
- Martinez – complex (gin, vermouth, maraschino liquor, orange bitters). This drink also came with the great burning orange peel garnish. It had a complexity that worked, with all of the components “talking” to each other well.
Mentioning all of that, there was one downside I picked up on pretty quickly: you get faster service at the bar. You also get to interact with the bartenders (duh) and I imagine learn more about the cocktails, ask more questions. When I made a reservation, I wasn’t expecting to get a seat at the bar, I expected a booth. But because of this, my companion and I ended up waiting about 10-15 minutes for our first two drinks. I know that making complicated drinks like this takes time, but I also observed as patrons got seated at the bar they got their drinks quicker than those not at the bar.
Beyond that though, I really enjoyed my experience at the Gibson. What surprised me the most was the relaxed feel of the place, and that’s something not to be discounted.