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When Alex met Marian

Arbikie Global Brand Ambassador Alex Forsyth caught up with one of the world’s top bartenders Marian Beke to talk all things Gibson and Arbikie.

Every city in the world has their own unique and thriving bar scene, but then there’s London. London has always led the way when it comes to bars, cocktails and attracting the top talent in the world. Like with most things in London it’s bigger, more diverse and a lot is going on. Thus to make it to the top in this competitive yet vibrant scene you to have be the best.

Arbikie has had the pleasure of working with one of the best – The Gibson Bar, which was recently ranked number 6 in the world by the World’s 50 Best Bars. The World’s 50 Best Bars is the “Oscars of the bar world”, the ultimate accolade and one which doesn’t come easy. Here is what the Judges said about The Gibson:

“It is a brave bar team that uses vinegar in cocktails. Marian Beke has never sheltered behind safe drinks, they do it their way which at the Gibson is a veritable canon of acetic creations…Open just a year The Gibson has passed the acid test – the Academy think the drinks are bang-on and discerning drinkers with taste across the PH spectrum have duly flocked.”

I had the pleasure of meeting with Marian Beke, owner of The Gibson, who is quite simply one of the top bartenders in the world. Marian like most who work in the trade, started at the bottom working as a bar back in London nightclubs before working his way to the top. Before Marian launched the Gibson bar in October 2015, he was the former bar manager of Nightjar, one of the worlds most respected bars.

As someone who has been involved in the London bar scene for a number of years I was excited to hear that Marian was launching his own place, the man is a genius. I knew that Marian’s ethos of exemplary cocktails, attention to detail and the importance of the customer experience would lead to great things. Marian is a great supporter of Arbikie and I am delighted to be working with him and his team. I met up with Marian recently to talk all things Gibson, cocktails and Arbikie:

Why did you name your bar The Gibson?

I named it after the Gibson Martini, which was created in 1908. The outside of The Gibson has that quintessential old England vibe, similar to a traditional English pub and I wanted The Gibson to reflect this. The garnish for The Gibson Martini is a pickled onion and pickles are very ‘English’ so I wanted to focus on this as the concept for the bar. We use a lot of chutneys, vinegars, brines in our drinks and use elements that make things a little bit unusual.

What is your approach to creating new cocktails?

First you need to thing about your clientele, your concept and your bar and how the drink will fit with these. You need to think about your local residents, the age group, analyse the market and communicate with your clients. You want the cocktail to reflect on the style of your bar. Then you begin with the flavour profile of the drink, simple ingredients, glassware and garnish.

Why did you decide to stock Arbikie?

The Arbikie brand has a great story and heritage. The quality of Arbikie products is exceptional and their farm to bottle process makes them really stand out.

What’s your favourite Arbikie product and why?

It would have to be Kirsty’s Gin because of the seaweed character. It has a really nice savoury, salty flavour, which fits in with our concept at the Gibson very well. Arbikie Strawberry Vodka is also a beautiful product, a surprise in a bottle. There is no artificial flavours and it is very pure and clean.

What advice would you give for bartenders building up their career?

London is an amazing place to build up your career as a bartender. It is so multi-cultural and there are so many different styles and choices that you can learn. I always go with the three important points:

  1. Flavour
  2. Knowledge
  3. Personal Skills

Do you have any advice to bartenders creating cocktails with Arbikie?

Think about the ingredients, taste it and become confident with the flavours and think about what it would work well with. Kirsty’s Gin has that seaweed character- savoury and salty so create a good match in your head and apply it to the concept of your bar.


The Gibson: f: TheGibsonBar  t: TheGibsonBar


Marian Beke: t: @marianbeke


Alex Forsyth: t: @arbikiealex


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