The equally classy little sister of Jigger & Pony, Gibson took home Best New Cocktail Bar at The Bar Awards Singapore 2016. Since then, it has been continually rolling in accolades, such as ranking at No. 15 on Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2019. While Bar Programme Director Aki Eguchi continues to oversee the entire group, much of the new menu can be attributed to the cohesive team, including Principal Bartender Gento Torigata and Senior Bartender Silvio Daniele.
Set on the second floor of the Gan Heritage Centre (a historical clan association in Singapore), Gibson shouts art deco from the stain glass window backing the bar to furnishings of mixed textures in the forest green wooden chairs to plush banquette seating alongside marble table tops. The glassware used is sleek and sophisticated, and we hear some of them were found in vintage shops in Jakarta by founders Indra Kantono and Guoyi Gan.
A quick sweep of the menu is enough to see that Gibson has gone down the way of “classic cocktails meet Asian ingredients”. The concept is certainly not uncommon in Singapore, but the way they’ve woven these ingredients into the classic cocktail structures still makes it such a fascinating bar to visit.
Priced across the board at S$23++ each, I don’t think I’ve seen such a popular cocktail as Always Summer– a take on a somewhat forgotten classic, the Soyer Au Champagne. This lively and refreshing tipple of coconut Botanist Gin sorbet and sparkling sake sold out in less than two hours into Gento’s shift at 8 1/2 Otto E Mezzo Bombana during The Bar Awards Hong Kong 2019.The sorbet is delicious; one can tell they use coconut water out of the husk instead of a UHT packet.
For something equally refreshing but tall, there is the Guava Highball. Besides the fragrance from fresh Malaysian white guava, the unique aroma comes from ulam raja, a medicinal herb frequently used in Peranakan cooking. This is one tequila cocktail I’d drink any day.
Though I’m not a fan of creamy cocktails, it’s hard not to perk up when I learnt that Grain is Gold was inspired by a dessert of celebrity chef Massimo Bottura, Bread is Gold, which is also the name of a cookbook he authored.
Unlike the original made with stale bread, this all-grain cocktail is sweet, creamy, and yeasty without being overwhelmingly so by combining grain whisky with oat milk, cereal, and rice liqueur. The lovely nose of yeast and burnt bread continues to tantalise to the last sip.
We save the most palate-challenging cocktail for last. The key ingredient in Wisdom Cup is cacao, but instead of chocolate, a coating of Balinese cacao butter (sourced from small batch chocolate producer PRIMO) is frozen on inside of the glass vessel.
Medicinal and minty – courtesy of Altos Reposado Tequila and two types of botanical mint liqueurs – each mouthful swirls a little more pandan essence and cacao butter into the liquid so you’ll end up with quite a different tipple near the end. Cocktail geeks will enjoy and appreciate the intent and the craftsmanship of this one, almost rendering the dichotomy of like and dislike a moot point.
Did we mention that the watercolour illustrations in the menu by Huiying Goh are fantastic? The food at Gibson comes straight from sister restaurant Humpback on the ground floor; don’t miss the oyster happy hour (6pm-8pm daily, all night on Tuesdays). The Maine Lobster Roll (S$46) is also one of the best in Singapore. Happy hour cocktails are also going at S$14++ each – wines and beer at S$13++ – from 6pm to 8pm every day.