All photos Laura Hayes.
All photos Laura Hayes.

Members of the new five-person bartending team at The Gibson jokingly refer to themselves as the ’96 Chicago Bulls. Who could forget the dream team of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Dennis Rodman that put up so many points on other teams, they finished the 1995-1996 season and post-season with a combined record of 87-13.

Pictured above from left to right, Bismark Franco, José Cox, Paul Gonzalez, Edwin Lainez, and Will Alvarez came on in November, breathing new life into the 10-year-old speakeasy on 14th Street NW that doesn’t even have a sign to mark its entrance. “I think they needed a fresh face—new people to come in here and get the name of The Gibson back out there in the cocktail community,” Lainez says. He’s the creative director and bar manager.

“What’s really cool is 90 percent of our bar staff is Latino,” Lainez continues. “Mexican, Bolivian, Puerto Rican, and Salvadorans. Not just ‘back of the house,’ we’re running the bar programs.” The bartenders come to The Gibson from other local bars and restaurants including Columbia Room, Espita, barmini, Del Mar, and Del Campo. “All these guys have great resumes and have worked at respectable places and definitely put in the work.”

José Cox and Will Alvarez

Their first task was rolling out a new cocktail menu in November. They locked themselves in a makeshift cocktail lab in the basement and put it together in two days. Each drink’s name is tied to D.C. past or present. They make the “Chuck Brown” with Old Overholt Rye, Belle Meade Sour Mash Bourbon, honey, Pamplemousse liqueur, lemon, and angostura, and named the “Butterfly Club” after a former adult theatre on 14th Street NW. It contains Joseph Magnus Vigilant Navy Strength Gin, Batavia Arrack, pineapple gomme, lime, and egg white. 

Try these drinks soon, because the The Gibson is introducing its spring cocktail menu on Feb. 12. One drink on the new menu is somehow both boozy and delicate. To make it, Cox stirs together Genever, Jos. A. Magnus & Co. Magnus Vigilant Navy Strength Gin, Salers Gentiane Apéritif, and Pamplemousse liqueur. Gonzalez is working on a drink that’s like a liquid cheese board; it will include smoked gouda orgeat, raspberry, and Irish whiskey.

The Gibson had previously been reservations-only, but that changed Feb. 1. The bar no longer accepts reservations and seating is first come, first served. Visit  Tuesdays through Sundays starting at 6 p.m. The bar closes at 2 a.m., except on Fridays and Saturdays when closes at 3 a.m.

The Gibson, 2009 14th St. NW; (202) 232-2156;