Washington, D.C.

The Gibson

Mon: 6pm - 12am
  • Mon: 6pm - 12am
  • Tues - Thurs: 6pm - 12:30am
  • Fri - Sat: 6pm - 1:30am
  • Sun: Closed

A speakeasy vibe that looks hidden and exclusive but feels intimate and sweeping. The menu is playfully descriptive and honest that leaves you without question but always curious for more. Bring a date, or two.


BY: Philip Van Benthem Contributing writer

Prohibition was a time when someone else’s ideas of morality trumped our right to imbibe. So, a daring group of malcontents drafted their own canons of morality, they became the keeper of secrets, and their church was the speakeasy. Windowless walls, entrances obscure and innocuous. Nothing piques a person’s interest like a good secret, and going to a speakeasy meant one of two things – you either have a secret, or someone is sharing a secret with you – and it’s always hard to tell what’s more alluring.

The shadows complement the drinks. You and The Gibson are now hiding in plain sight.

The Gibson owns that feeling. They’ve designed the experience of having a drink with them not around you, but around your date. The feeling of exclusivity starts after you walk single file through a hallway to the hostess. She checks you off the list (if you made reservations) and walks you through the locked door equipped with the standard speakeasy peephole. She guides you to your seat making you feel like you’re right where you belong. The bartenders can read you as you walk through the door. They know who is playing follow the leader, and they make sure to treat you like a seasoned patron and a connoisseur of the drink list. Your date is handed a menu and you are left to revel in the fact that you had the secret to tell.

It’s not a tawdry establishment. It looks like a Thievery Corporation song sounds.  Dark walls speckled with paintings and oddities. Booths are nestled in cozy nooks and leather chairs at the tables give off an intimate vibe. Walk to the back and you enter into an open-air patio that feels like cobblestone bistro in Beirut. Dim lights create the glow. Candles aid in the viewing of the menu. The shadows complement the drinks. You and The Gibson are now hiding in plain sight.

Each drink has a two-word descriptor, which is a game-changer in the world of cocktail menus when it comes to understanding obscure liquors like Rinamato Bianco, and Becherovka. Your date doesn’t have to bashfully ask what the ingredients are and how they will make the drink taste, and you don’t have to think of a creative lie that is both descriptively ambiguous and colorfully vague. The food is fare for the masses. Olives, roasted nuts, small plates of fried chicken sliders or avocado tartine to share. The kind of dishes where its substance is wanted on the table but its presence is not, and The Gibson nails it.

Like the adage goes, “beware the man who only has one gun, he probably knows how to use it”, but in this case, The Gibson’s weapon of choice is a fine spirit, the variety of which mimics that of a prohibition bar. Four or five ryes to choose from for your Manhattan, but a girthy list is not what they’re going for. The bartenders here are selective with what they use because the drinks are layered with complex flavors that start as a citrus at the tip of your tongue and end up as an herbaceously aromatic breath of fresh air.

You’ll want to have a drink with The Gibson, and you want to come back for more. You’ll keep your fingers crossed that the secret doesn’t get out. But it will, The Gibson is too good for it not to.


The secret is getting out, so make a reservation, especially on the weekend

The bartenders know how to work the menu, but they can ad hoc, too. Give them a vague declination of a drink and let them pick the course for the expedition of the evening

You’re on 14th Head South and you’re never far from another place to have a meal or cocktail