The Gibson owner Marian Beke has launched a bottled cocktail range using spirits which date back 50-100 years.
Beke has been collecting rare bottlings for years, amassing a 70-strong range. Using these rare expressions and matching them to cocktail recipes from a similar period, The Gibson vintage range offers an insight into our imbibing past.
Among the gin cocktails bottled for sale is the Vintage Negroni (£80 for 250ml / three serves), which takes in 1950s Gordon’s Dry Gin, 1950s Cortina vermouth and 1960s Campari.
The Blackthorn English Cocktail, (£65) is a recipe from Cocktails: How to Mix Them by Robert Vermeire in 1922 and blends 1960s Gordon’s sloe gin 1950s Booth's dry gin, 1950s Amaro 18 Isolabella and 1940s Angostura bitters.
The Fin de Siecle (£65) – from The Old Waldorf Astoria Bar Book, A.S. Crockett, published in 1935 - uses 1940s Gordon’s dry gin, 1950s Dubonnet, 1950s Amer Picon 21 and 1940s Angostura bitters.
The vodka-based Fairbanks No.2 – cited in The Savoy Cocktail Book by Harry Craddock from 1930 - is made with 1950s Zubrowka vodka, 1940s Cinzano dry vermouth, 1980s Nucillo E Curti and 1960s Drai Amaro extra secco.
The Amarosa (£75) – by H. Losappio in 1930 - is bottled from 1960s Oknotnichya vodka, 1950s Cora amaro and 1960s Campari cordial.
Speaking to Class, Beke said: “We had around 60-70 bottles – which were covering our piano top (we’re a very small bar) and mainly consisted of gins and vermouth, as we’ve always had a focus on vintage Martinis. We used them to make the 12-bottle range. Some of the cocktails are very limited. Some lines have 20 bottles but some as little as four – it all depended on what we had in our collection.”
Beke said that there was never a better time than now to open up his collection. “Right now, cash flow is everything – we had money in stock, so the priority was to sell it. This and the fact that the bottled cocktail market has exploded, meant it was time to bottle our vintage cocktails. People are not getting the bar experiences they’re used to, so I think it’s important to offer something different in terms of value, at-home experience and packaging (all the bottles have metal tops, beeswax, ribbons and hand-signed labels).
“We sell the vintage bottles through click and collect and our e-shop. Also with Deliveroo and from artisanal spirit shops such as Shokunin House in East London. We’ve had orders from international markets.”
The Gibson is running a competition to win a set of the vintage cocktails this March. Upon following @thegibsonbar on Instagram and purchasing a regular Gibson bottled cocktail (from The Gibson e-shop or Shokunin House) customers will be entered into a draw to win the full range of 12 vintage cocktails, worth over £1,200.