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Posted at 1:46 PM ET, 04/17/2009

Sipping Outside at the Gibson

By Fritz Hahn

Getting into the Gibson just got a little easier.

The speakeasy-style cocktail bar's amazing libations, strictly-enforced 48-person capacity and bothersome rules (including two-hour time limits at tables) have made it one of the hottest tickets in town -- and also made it increasingly likely you'll be turned away on the weekends.

But now the Gibson's capacity has doubled, thanks to a 40-seat rear patio and outdoor bar that just opened last night. There are a dozen more tables, plus four stools at a short bar, which are available to customers on a first-come, first-serve basis every night. Unfortunately, you can't ask for a place on the patio when you make a reservation. But if you have a reservation and there are open tables outdoors, you can always ask to sit there.

The tables are lit by candles and surrounded by a high wooden fence strung with white lights. With leafy branches and moonlight overhead, it's all very romantic. Conveniently, these outdoor seats aren't subject to two-hour limits -- at least for now.

The only rule seems to be that you can't have a group larger than five outside. Any more, and you'll be split into two tables.

In coming weeks, the Gibson will add a retractable awning that will cover about half the patio, offering some shelter in case of rain.

Here's my favorite part: Because it's outdoors, the patio bar has added frozen blender drinks to the cocktail list. And because it's the Gibson, they go way beyond the average Slurpee-like pina coladas you find at some bars. (To start with, they're made for two people and are served in ice-cold metal tumblers.) The Hurricane, crafted with light and dark Flor de Cana rums, evokes the beach. Far more interesting is the Chili-Mango Batida, which finds cachaca, a Brazilian sugar cane liquor, infused with spicy chilis and blended with chunks of mango and cilantro. It's ridiculously good.

Also making its debut this week is a spring cocktail menu, which has jettisoned most of the old familiar standbys (farewell, Salad Days Sour). I haven't had a chance to explore the whole thing, but what I've tried is a little hit or miss. The Meridian, which includes gin, both sweet and dry vermouths, crème de violette, rose water and orange bitters, is too floral -- the rose and violet flavors seem to be stepping on each other. On the other hand, the Horses' Nick (With a Kick) is a winner, and only $8: scotch, punchy Fever Tree ginger ale and bitters, plus an entire lemon peel spiraled into the glass. It's the kind of drink where people stop, look at the glass, and ask you what you're having. If they taste it, they'll probably order one, too.

-- Fritz

By Fritz Hahn  | April 17, 2009; 1:46 PM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs  
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Zzzzzzzzzzzz. Place will be public housing in 18 months.

Posted by: bs2004 | April 17, 2009 3:44 PM | Report abuse

I have better things to do than sit and drink.

Posted by: Bitter_Bill | April 17, 2009 8:29 PM | Report abuse

Sooo pretentious.....this whole silly "speakeasy" trend is such a joke. People wait in line for these overpriced drinks? What a waste.

Posted by: dbunkr | April 17, 2009 8:41 PM | Report abuse

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