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The Gibson, Speakeasy in U-Street Corridor, Due North of Marvin and Up the Stairs


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"Where's your brother?" I demanded, looking directly into his eyes, my hand impatiently tapping the bar.

"I don't know."

"WHERE IS HE?"

"I DON'T KNOW!"

I put down my glass, and inched closer towards him.

"Is it open?"

"Is what open?"

"IT!"

He shrugged his shoulders, and muttered something. "Maybe. I don't know."

I took my pen, and instead of gouging it into his eye, signed my check (2007 Chateau Magneau Graves Blanc, $8), walked out the door, turned left, and headed up the street to find his brother.

---

Salad Days Sour ($12) - Celery-infused Macchu Pisco, Lemon, The Bitter Truth Celery Bitters, Burnt Cinnamon
Rhum Manhattan ($14) - Neisson Rhum Agricole Reserve, Carpano Antica Formula Sweet Vermouth, Walnut Liqueur, The Bitter Truth Orange Bitters
Sazerac ($8) - Old Overholt Rye, Peychaud Bitters, Kubler Absinthe.

Cheers,
Rocko.

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If you're trying to lure someone into the world of cocktails, there's plenty of choices on this menu. The Whiskey Skin has introduced my brother to Scotch, and the Expat is easily quaffable and very good for a change of pace. The Brunswick Sour shows how a small addition to a drink can completely change it and the Salad Days Sour just makes the place smell good.

But if you know you like your drinks strong, I can't resist the Malt & Hops. Every time I order one it's all I can do not to order another...and another...and another...

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Was able to finally stop by last week & catch a seat at the bar.

I tried the Expat & the Salad Days Sour, I enjoyed both. This place has a nice chill vibe to it, what may look somewhat basic upon deeper observation has some really nice design elements [moulding, bartop I specifically noticed]. It was nice chatting w/ Tiffany behind the bar & enjoyed watching her expertly craft drinks.

Looking forward to coming back here & letting the bartenders recommend drinks off-menu.

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I must give a shout out to John for a brillant cocktail served up at or near last call on Tuesday. Armed with nothing more than my professed passion for the Martinez, he delivered a glass holding a playfully devilish burnt yellow libation. Having substituted mezcal for gin and ginger liquor for the traditional maraschino, he had created an original spin on my standby. The mezcal's trademark smokiness and the ginger's bite added new, complex flavors without disturbing the perfect balance of the classic cocktail. The choices of a Crema de Mezcal and Dolin's sweet vermouth added an unexpected and welcome lightness to the drink. Unfortunately, John refused to coin a name for the drink, insisting that he had delivered something I liked, and that was all that mattered. When I attempt to imitate the drink and pass it off to my friends as an original creation, I'll be calling it a "Oaxacan Martinez."

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I wasn't aware of a strict dress code being enforced, but there is certainly an implied one- no shorts, probably no sandals, and preferably decent (non-sneaker) shoes. Beyond that, I wouldn't worry. It's not a blazers type of place, and most guys will be in jeans.

By the way, does anyone know when the outdoor garden area will be open? It will greatly increase capacity and decrease wait times.

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I *BELIEVE* they start around 5 PM (taking calls).

i've been told 12-5pm is the time to call for reservations. they are open 7 days a week now and it's much less frentic earlier in the week, natch.

also, after much frustration with their reservation system (not getting anyone to answer the phone, reservations being confirmed over the phone and then not on the books when we show up, etc) i was thrilled to be phoned by the staff confirming my reservation last week, saving much heartache all around.

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i've been told 12-5pm is the time to call for reservations. they are open 7 days a week now and it's much less frentic earlier in the week, natch.

also, after much frustration with their reservation system (not getting anyone to answer the phone, reservations being confirmed over the phone and then not on the books when we show up, etc) i was thrilled to be phoned by the staff confirming my reservation last week, saving much heartache all around.

I was recently told that you need to plan about 2 weeks out for a weekend reservation. :rolleyes:

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We went about a month ago on a Saturday. Though we could not get reservation, they did put us on a waitlist (they said they'd call if someone cancelled) and they did encourage to stop by b/c they might open the back patio b/c it was so warm that day. We had dinner at Marvin beforehand and our waiter said "leave it to me" b/c he works there occassionally and he escorted us over after our meal. We got four seats at the bar that happened to have just opened up and we enjoyed the drinks and the show. For what it's worth, there were at least two booths empty for our entire 2 hours there, so it may be ok to just stop by just in case if you don't have reservations.

Pax,

Brian

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Stopped in The Gibson for a few drinks last night with a colleague. Tried to get a reservation for a table to be on the safe side but was told by the gentleman on the phone that the time to make reservations was 12-5pm daily. I noted that it was exactly 5pm as we spoke but he insisted, in a nice tone, that I was indeed too late but that I could try to walk in. I figured it was a Tues so wouldnt be too crowded so we showed up and were shown immediately given a table in the back. So not being given a reservation was not a problem but just kinda weird.

Anyway, the drinks were fantastic. The menu offers a great variety of cocktails with carefully chosen and unique ingredients. I stuck with the Gin section of the menu, as is my tendency, sampling both The Improved Gin Cocktail and The Meridian. Both were smooth, balanced, thoughtfully served and deceptively strong. The former was my favorite of the two, as evidenced by my ordering two of them. Not sure if it was the maraschino liqueur or the ale bitters that provided the nuance but I detected a subtle background flavor that was totally unique in this drink and I'm not sure what it was. It shows that alot of thought went into creating these drinks though. My colleague had the Horses Neck, which he said was a tad sweet, The Meridian, which he liked, and the Rites of Spring.

I like this place. The ambiance is low key, music isn't too loud, and the decor makes you feel like you are secreted away some place. I'll be back at some point. Maybe not every other night, as $10-12 per drink is a bit steep, but overall I enjoyed my visit here and will return. I'm curious to see how the drink menu changes as the seasons change.

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Stopped in The Gibson for a few drinks last night with a colleague. Tried to get a reservation for a table to be on the safe side but was told by the gentleman on the phone that the time to make reservations was 12-5pm daily. I noted that it was exactly 5pm as we spoke but he insisted, in a nice tone, that I was indeed too late but that I could try to walk in. I figured it was a Tues so wouldnt be too crowded so we showed up and were shown immediately given a table in the back. So not being given a reservation was not a problem but just kinda weird.

Anyway, the drinks were fantastic. The menu offers a great variety of cocktails with carefully chosen and unique ingredients. I stuck with the Gin section of the menu, as is my tendency, sampling both The Improved Gin Cocktail and The Meridian. Both were smooth, balanced, thoughtfully served and deceptively strong. The former was my favorite of the two, as evidenced by my ordering two of them. Not sure if it was the maraschino liqueur or the ale bitters that provided the nuance but I detected a subtle background flavor that was totally unique in this drink and I'm not sure what it was. It shows that alot of thought went into creating these drinks though. My colleague had the Horses Neck, which he said was a tad sweet, The Meridian, which he liked, and the Rites of Spring.

I like this place. The ambiance is low key, music isn't too loud, and the decor makes you feel like you are secreted away some place. I'll be back at some point. Maybe not every other night, as $10-12 per drink is a bit steep, but overall I enjoyed my visit here and will return. I'm curious to see how the drink menu changes as the seasons change.

I believe that they only allow reservations for a portion of the tables so that may be why you did not get one even though you were able to walk in.

In regards to the drink prices, where else in the area can you get cocktails of that quality (or even close) for a better price?

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In regards to the drink prices, where else in the area can you get cocktails of that quality (or even close) for a better price?

FWIW, my impression is that Danny wasn't saying $10-12 represents a bad value; only that it's a lot of money for "a drink" (which it is), and not something he'd want to do all the time.

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FWIW, my impression is that Danny wasn't saying $10-12 represents a bad value; only that it's a lot of money for "a drink" (which it is), and not something he'd want to do all the time.

True, but the prices are pretty much standard (or lower) for the area.

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True, but the prices are pretty much standard (or lower) for the area.

Sorry for the delayed response, but Rocks characterized my viewpoint correctly. I am perfectly willing to pay for the craftmanship and quality of ingredients that go into creating cocktails of this quality and expect to re-visit this establishment again in the near future. Rocks said it right, they are "just drinks" after all, and though you are right that the Gibson's price level is about equal to that of other fine establishments in the area, that just means that you pay alot for drinks everywhere.

Please don't take it as griping. I'm fully aware of how much I spend on drinks and if I really wanted to spend less, I could drink less but that's hard to do when perusing a drink menu at a place like The Gibson.

Thanks, Rocks for clarifying on my behalf.

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Anyone been recently? Is the place still packed on Saturday nights, and what is the largest-sized party for which one can reasonably expect to (and successfully) reserve space? 4? 6? 8?

I haven't been in at least a month so I can't comment as to how packed the place is, but if i remember correctly, with the booths inside i think it would be hard to accomodate more than 4 people inside, unless maybe you were at the bar. outdoors has smaller, moveable tables though, so i would think that you could do 6 or 8 there were enough tables free.

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