Belle Epoque Meets Prohibition at The Gibson Bar
Ask any cocktail-loving Londoner about a bar for cocktails with a flare for theatre and a passion for uniqueness and The Gibson Bar undoubtedly always gets a mention. The entrance, a darkened mish-mash of an emerald-tiled east-end pub and seductive Edwardian glamour stands out amongst the grim traffic and glassy expanse of Old Street. And this theatrical clash of time and space continues inside, where the owner and drink magician Marian Beke has created a sanctuary that is as elegant as it is experimental. Think of it not as a simple bar, but as a Belle Epoque time machine disguised as a New York speakeasy, magicked to life in 1920’s London and its mixed-up East London authenticity will all make some sense.
The menu reads a little like a calendar, with drinks separated into months, and crafted from seasonal flavours and the mind-boggling tinctures, syrups and tonics created at the bar. Classic martini glasses mingle with vast sculpture-like glassware: some are lamps with lightbulbs masquerading as glasses, teapots shaped like cats, and wooden bowls accentuated by a waterfall of smoke, while others are skulls filled with tequila offering up crowns of edible worms, huge golden monkeys, upside down top-hats stuffed with mushrooms, and intricate metal sculptures of snakes wrapped around glass bowls filled with a punch the colour of blue topaz. The flavours are indescribable: pickled banana daiquiris mingle with coffee cocktails enhanced with Azuki custard and kumquat jam. Everything is phenomenally good.