Industry News

Frank Jones: Front and Center at the Gibson

Frank Jones, bartender extraordinaire at The Gibson in Washington, D.C., is quick to list star mixologist Gina Chersevani among his first mentors in the business. Chuckling at the memory of her early tutelage, he recalled, “Gina would always tell me that I was messy and slow! What she was trying to get me to see was, as a bartender, you are constantly on display. You don’t really think of yourself as being part of the atmosphere, per se, but you are. Unlike a server at a table, you can’t leave your post. You’re stuck there, you’re in a fish bowl, and they’re watching you. So, in turn, I’ve learned to be much more neat. It’s very important to always be aware of the fact that you are being watched and to bring some degree of elegance to the job.”

Winner of last year’s Artini competition at the Corcoran Gallery, Jones has been tending bar in the Washington metro area for a decade now. He started at the Poste Moderne Brasserie in the Hotel Monaco. From there, he went to Ardeo + Bardeo, the Belga Cafe, and the Jack Rose Dining Saloon. “Now I am very happy to be at The Gibson,” he stated, “where I pretty much manage the cocktail program.”

Jones describes The Gibson as a “speakeasy-style cocktail bar,” which is located on 14th and U Streets in the District. He and his staff specialize in pre-Prohibition-style cocktails, as well as craft cocktails. “My favorite part of the job,” he stated, “is coming up with the drinks and then seeing the guests interact with them, seeing them surprised and happy with what has been set in front of them. Few Spirits are especially great to work with. I have two favorites. One is the Few Rye and the other is the Barrel Aged Gin. I think the gin, in particular, is just amazing.”

He continued, “The most challenging part is consistently coming up with something that you haven’t seen already. Once you get the idea, you’re good to go. You can work it out. I usually just sit at the bar and ask myself, ‘What haven’t I put in a drink?’ And then I’ll think about things that might go well with that. Or, I’ll look at a liquor that I don’t necessarily care all that much for, that I’ve kind of avoided using, and I’ll force myself to use it in some obscure way. I also get a lot of inspiration from food and things that I like to eat.”

One question he doesn’t spend much time obsessing on is which ice to use. Cubed, crushed, shaved, an ice wedge — he just doesn’t care. “I might catch a lot of Hell for this, but someone once said to me when asked about ice, ‘You just better not run out of it!’ I, myself, am the same way. The different types of ice are great. They definitely do have their purposes. However, for me, I tend not to get caught up too much in the ice. At the end of the day, people want a cold drink, and they want it fast.”

Jones also doesn’t have a lot of time on his hands to go to other bars and taverns and see what they’re doing. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a few pet peeves. “What drives me up the wall is shaking martinis,” he exclaimed, “or shaking any cocktail that doesn’t need to be shaken! Other than that, I pretty much avoid going to other cocktail bars. I try and go somewhere I can actually shut my brain off. I’ll go to dive bars where I don’t expect anything.”

Customers have come to expect a lot from The Gibson, and Jones and his colleagues are always looking for fun promotions to keep them coming back. On the horizon, for instance, is a first-of-its kind April Fool’s Wedding. “One of my co-workers and I have decided we’re going to get married on April 1st,” Jones laughed. ” We’re actually very good friends. She has a boyfriend, and he’s going to ‘give me away.’ It’s going to be a relaxed party, very different from what the Gibson is normally like.”

Other than that, Jones just wants to continue having fun and keeping a level head. “Don’t ever be too cocky,” he concluded. “Nobody likes a cocky bartender. Be confident, but understand that there is a line between confidence and cockiness. And definitely understand that no matter what you know, there is always more to learn. Every day, somebody is doing something different and something new. The moment you think that you know it all, you’re already behind.”

FAVORITE MOVIE: “Little Shop of Horrors”

CAN’T MISS TV SHOW: “Scandal”

FAVORITE HOLIDAY: Halloween

PERSON HE WOULD MOST LOVE TO SERVE A DRINK TO (living or dead): Janet Jackson.

SPECIAL INTEREST: “I like to draw and paint. No particular style. Whatever strikes me in the moment.”


Publication: Beverage Journal
Author: Edward "Teddy" Durgin


Kopper Kettle Virginia Whiskey
Belmont Farms Distillery

The first in our Kopper Kettle line, our Virginia Whiskey is a unique product with many fans. Its starts off as a 3 grain whiskey and then soaks for 2 months with charred Virginia white oak and Virginia apple wood. Then we age it 4 years in oak barrels. Many of our customers enjoy it neat or with a splash of water for a beautiful, relaxing, sipping whiskey. However you choose to drink it, join the thousands that prefer it to all other aged whiskies.

Breckenridge Bourbon
Breckenridge Distillery

Breckenridge Bourbon won one of only three gold medals in its category awarded by the prestigious International Wine and Spirits Competition, won Bourbon of the Year 2012 at the International Whisky Competition, and achieved 96 points at the Ultimate Spirits Challenge NYC.

Delord Armagnac 25 Years Old
Heavenly Spirits

This superb blend displays flavors or cocoa, spices, vanilla, raisins, walnut and cinnamon. Its finish is long, silky and biscuity. 25 years old.

JM Salted Caramel
Jackson Morgan Southern Cream

Salted caramel is Jackson Morgan Southern Cream’s most requested flavor with a delectable balance of caramel and real dairy cream. Mix with blueberry vodka for Jackson Morgan’s signature cocktail, The Blue Mule. Best served chilled. Silver, 2015 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Silver Outstanding, 2015 International Wine and Spirits Competition. Gold, 2015 Best Tasting Spirits.

Koloa Spice Hawaiian Rum
Koloa Rum Company

Koloa Spice Rum is produced from a proprietary spice blend, golden wheat in color, with hints of spice cake on the nose. It is extremely well-balanced with a hint of caramel and vanilla and a long, smooth finish. 2012 Silver Medal, San Francisco Spirits Competition. 2011 Bronze Medal, Miami Rum Renaissance Festival.

Lyon Dark Rum
Lyon Distilling

Lyon Distilling Company is Maryland's premier craft distillery, producing truly artisan spirits by transforming raw ingredients into splendid liquor, step by step, in very small batches, using traditional pot stills. In homage to the historical trajectory of Maryland distilling, Lyon launched at the end of 2013 with a signature line of rums - the most authentic, original American spirit - distilled from molasses & sugar cane, in batches of less than 100 bottles each. The Dark Rum is unbelievably smooth at 90 proof - with a rich, smoky caramel flavor and a truly unique profile. Stellar on it's own neat, on the rocks, or mixed into your favorite rum cocktail.

Cody Road Rye Whiskey
Mississippi River Distilling Company

Handmade from 100% local rye purchased from Dave and Jim Wherry in Fulton, Illinois. Our rye is a unique spirit that showcases the wonderful spiciness of this one-of-a-kind grain along with the delicate fruitiness that is often lost in rye whiskies. Rye is known for being a bold and spicy grain. We distill it very cleanly so you can experience a sweet fruitiness that is unexpected from rye. Then the signature spiciness will linger in the back of your mouth. Let it set in the glass for a few minutes and taste the complexities of rye as they soar from your glass.

Two James Johnny Smoking Gun Whiskey
Two James Spirits

Johnny Smoking Gun is a story of East Meets West. A Whiskey crafted specifically to compliment the “umami” of the rich pork and fish broths of Japanese cuisine. This delicate smoky blend of 70% corn and 30% rye will surely not disappoint. Enjoy! 87 Proof

Diamond Mtn. District Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
Von Strasser

“DMD” is an elegant expression of Diamond Mountain District. This blend of six single vineyards all within this AVA offers a softer, approachable style highlighted by its fruit forward nature. Immediate nose is pleasing with dark fruit of blueberry, blackberry and leather layered with flavors of licorice, coffee, pomegranate and subtle earthy undertones. Wrap it up with supple tannins to enjoy now or up to 10 years.

Upcoming Events