After being open for a while, The Gibson, known for it’s complex and imaginative menu highlighted by the simple classic that is its namesake, went for a small menu rehaul.
The new cocktails are similarly complex, boasting nearly a dozen ingredients at some points, taking risks with flavour profiles.
A first glance at the menu did make the Hoodooist a bit cautious, I am bit of a traditionalist with warning that drinks going past 5 ingredients were at risk for getting lost, but that won’t stop me from trying out new cocktails.
A tiny, intimate venue, with dim light and close range seating, the Gibson has gone for a powerfully apothecary atmosphere, reflecting its equally strange and varied menu, including everything from oregano flowers to the infusion of forest bees.
Beginning with a cocktail very much up the Hoodooist’s street, the Garden of the Sun King mixes Ailsa Bay whisky, infusion of forest bees, 3 La Quintinye Royal vermouths, lemon balm and leaf extract aged aquavit, maple ice wine tea and white port tincture, garnished with floregano, roasted pepper jacket and black olive.
Get the gist? Yeah.
The nose is undoubtedly full of red pepper, smokey and almost beefy. First sip is full of the tarry, smokey, liquorice of Ailsa Bay, followed by a light honey from the bee infusion. A lightness follows, from the lemon balm, then the white port. If you choose to dunk the red pepper in, a spice trails at the end. You want to finish this drink quickly – over time the sweetness begins to dominate the bottom half of the drink
Next up, the Beyond the Pines. Loving pine flavours, this had to be tried. Monkey Shoulder whiskey and pine resin infusion, mixed with Kamm & Sons ginseng liqueur, lemon, ‘pine-apple’, elderflower juice, smoked juniper and rosemary honey, hot gooseberry chutney, ginger beer, wasabi, and matcha.
Thanks to the pine and flaming pinecone garnish, the nose is powerfully forest-y. In the best way. Palate starts with pine, smoked rosemary and juniper. There is a light effervescence to it, immediately followed by ginger and matcha, with a length of wasabi.
This was easily my favourite drink of the evening. Distinguishable flavours, cool and refreshing.
Finally, the Winter in Wonderland was a great example as to why a dozen ingredients can be majorly problematic.
Cacao shell soaked Bols Genever, Mulled spiced cordial vintage cider, apple and pear conserve, lemon, 7 y.o. mandarin bitter, white snow waffle topped with raspberry and chocolate, cedarwood ice.
A cold drink the nose was spiced and citrus-y. But the drink was orange throughout, with the variety of flavours drowned out.
The stroopwaffel was ace, though.
There is a food menu, with an exquisite beef tartare – love. Service is fab, however preparing these complex cocktails takes a while, so do be prepared. On the note of fab service, it has to be, as I found myself asking for flavour profiles being far more useful than reading the variety of ingredients. This can be difficult when working with a menu that is one of the longest I’ve seen in recent history.
The Gibson is a great bar for those who want to take risks and have the money to spend, there are certainly some gems like the Beyond the Pines here. I know I had a good night – but you do have to take risks and keep what you get. With the great staff, you shouldn’t have too much of a problem getting the flavour profiles down and chatting about what you enjoy.
And push comes to shove, order the Gibson Martini.
44 Old St,
London EC1V 9AQ.