COCKTAIL BAR OLD STREET
Category : Bar
Opening Times : Mon - Thurs: 5pm-1am, Fri - Sat: 5pm-2am
Closest Tube : Old Street
One of the great things about living in a metropolis is that it allows for specialisation. Travel around somewhere like rural America or coastal India and it can be surprisingly difficult to find a menu that doesn‘t comprise of a couple cuisines and over a couple hundred dishes. Big cities though, like Tokyo and like London, offer high-concept bars and eateries where you can go for something very specific, and not much else. The Gibson, a drinking den just west of the Old Street Roundabout, is that kind of place.
Launched by owner Marian Beke (former bar manager at The Nightjar) with bar manager Rusty Cerven (senior mixologist at The Connaught), The Gibson is named for the famous gin martini garnished with a pickled cocktail onion, but they specialise in a wide range of cocktails either spiked with vinegar or pickled ingredients. Now, we know this might be off-putting to some drinkers, but we can assure you that the results are very, very good. The 45 cover bar is intimate and not heavily adorned. Frosted glass windows and art deco wall sconces imbue the room with a Victorian/Edwardian ambience. The most salient feature of the room is the bar, behind which a veritable buffet line of cured, dried and pickled ingredients are lined up, including a wide array of homemade syrups, desiccated slices of citrus, orange peels, pickled mushrooms, flower buds and quails‘ eggs, to name a few.
Upon arrival we were greeted with shots of fruit punch which had a whisper of vinegar cutting through the sweetness. It was a welcome distraction while we perused the cocktail menu, which draws inspiration from disparate historical sources running the gamut from medieval England to colonial Bombay. We chose the eponymous cocktails, figuring if they were good enough for the name, they‘d be good enough for our palates, and we weren‘t wrong. The Gibson arrived in a chilled steel martini glass, and oh boy it was powerful. The recipe was simple: Tanqueray with
Mancino Secco vermouth and a house pickled onion. Two of these would be lethal. A Dry Gibson on the other hand was a bit more complex: St James No 3 Gin aromatised with sandalwood, Martini Ambrato, British bitters and pickled exotic nuts, served in a retro vintage silver spoon.
Whilst powerful cocktails with pickled ingredients are a speciality here, there are plenty of lighter options too, and pickles aren‘t de rigueur. We were quite smitten by this little drinking den and will definitely be returning soon. If you‘re serious about your cocktails, rest easy that Beke and Cerven are even more serious!