The other weekend my friends and I had the pleasure of visiting the Gibson, a new top secret bar opened by the owners of Marvin’s on U St. They are too cool and secretive for a website, so I’ve linked to the Washington Post review. Some might refer to a place like this as a speakeasy, but really since Prohibition ended in the 1930’s I don’t think any place can really call itself that. Challenge me if you will, but I have history on my side.

Each night at the Gibson half the tables are open for walk-ins and half are reserved. Mags was kind enough to make us a reservation. Regardless of how you get in, you can only have your table for two hours. So, I showed up at 7pm on the dot, with the instructions to just ring the doorbell on the door immediately to the left of Marvin’s, marked 2009. I rang and walked into a normal looking hallway. I showed my ID to the “doorman”, he checked me off on a clipboard, and escorted me through a normal looking door. Then, the scene changed, I was in a dimly lit oak lined room, with quiet music playing and tables full of 20-somethings conversing about Nietzsche, Obama and how cool they felt to be at the Gibson.

I sat at the bar while waiting for the rest of my party to arrive and tried to make-out the drink menu in the dim light. It was hard, I kinda did feel like I was at a pre-1930 speakeasy, minus electricity and all! Once everyone got there we were escorted to a lovely table in the back of the bar, near the absinthe fountain, yeah I had no idea what it was either, until the DCist told me.


The establishment only seats 48 and they do not allow anyone to stand at the bar, so it was not crowded or loud. We settled into our table and relished in the relaxed atmosphere. Our waitress was wonderful, not snobby or obnoxious, which is what one would think you’d get at a place like this. She was very helpful with the eclectic drink  menu and suggested some great cocktails.

The menu is arranged by liquor type (gin, vodka, bubbly) and the combinations are very different. For example, there is the Salad Days Sour, consisting of celery-infused Macchu Pisco, The Bitter Truth celery bitters, and burnt cinnamon. Batches of cinnamon are burned in a skillet, and the drink is topped with nearly an inch of egg white foam, the drink is garnished with a long, thin peeling of carrot and the burnt cinnamon. I tired a sip of Kathleen’s and it was almost like a celery flavored lite carrot cake, weird, but good! They also had a great wine selection, including a “port blend” of grapes that was sweet and bold all at the same time. It was the first time I’d tried a non-desert wine made with port grapes and I was pleased! My lemony drink whose name escapes me was refreshing and STRONG, well worth the $12 price tag.


All in all it was a wonderful place to come with a group of friends. I would not recommend it to people looking for a loud party. It’s a spot to sit and drink and feel warm and cozy, not to meet new people. Make a reservation to guarantee yourself a spot, and definitely ask your server to explain the drinks. Drinks run from $8 to $14 a pop, so you want to make sure you get something good!