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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


What’s on tap: What happens when beer guy goes to Gib’s cocktail bar?

Celebrating its one year anniversary April 14, lounge is still trendy as it attracts people of all ages to off campus location
Katie Cooney

Across campus, students continually get shit-faced at the prototypical sports bars and traditional underage bars.

While it’s cheap and affordable, many students might be wondering, “Where are all the trendy and high-end places to go out?” The short answer? Willy Street.

Gib’s Bar, a trendy cocktail lounge that will celebrate its one year anniversary on April 14, is an amazing and visually-appealing place that draws in people of all ages, easily found right off campus on Willy Street.


Filled with sleek furniture and interesting knick-knacks, as well as amazing cocktail, beer and food options, Gib’s Bar is a place those looking to get off campus can enjoy.

I stopped by Gib’s Bar on a Saturday afternoon with a friend of mine and had no idea what to expect upon arriving. Placed right next to Grampa’s Pizzeria in an old residential house, it can be easy to skip right over the cocktail lounge. Out front, it still looks like a traditional house.

Upon entering, however, you’re immediately immersed in an interesting pseudo-speakeasy type place, with movie theater seating located in the lobby and encompassing window seating across from the bar on the ground floor.

Upstairs, a second bar with a completely different menu is surrounded by bar seating, plus some old church pews and other old relic-style furniture.

Walking up to the bar on the first floor, my friend and I were introduced to a bartender who explained the menu and some of the peculiar options Gib’s Bar featured.

I also learned a lot of what is featured on the menu is actually made in-house, as Gib’s Bar uses many of their own personal recipes.

After getting a rundown of all the drinks featured at the downstairs bars, we each had our choices set. I decided to try the Red Yellow Tonic, an interesting blend of Death’s Door Gin, house-made Bell Pepper Mescal and tonic.

My friend went with the Yirgacheffe, a blend of bonded bourbon, Coffee Cinzano and Grapefruit Oil. What made the Yirgacheffe even more interesting was that it was poured over a handmade ice cube the size of a fist.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit — I love my beer. Rarely do I ever shy away from grabbing a craft or draft beer out at the bars. With that being said, I was completely taken away by these drinks.

The Red Yellow Tonic was a perfect blend of bell pepper aroma and taste, as well as a sweet smokiness. Never would I have thought gin and mescal would pair well together, but the bell pepper flavors really gave the drink an amazing taste. I’ve never had a drink like this before, and don’t know if I will anywhere else.

The Yirgacheffe, meanwhile, was incredibly smooth, and the Coffee Cinzano had amazing flavors. The bourbon hit immediately on the first taste, but through the finish, there was a very smooth and refreshing coffee flavor.

Additionally, the people at Gib’s Bar are almost as important as the drinks, given the wide variety that we had seen there. When we first arrived, there was just a young 30-something couple sitting against a window, playing some cards.

There was group of a dozen 20 and 30-year-olds enjoying a day on the town, as well as a small group of elderly people out exploring Madison.

Usually, I’d be surprised to see these groups of people in the same bar, but it’s easy to see the mass appeal of Gib’s Bar to people of all ages.

If you’re looking for a change of pace from campus, and want to see what else the city of Madison has to offer, take a short trip over to Willy Street and check out Gib’s Bar. It’s an incredibly sleek and modern space that offers a much more relaxed and enjoyable environment than typical campus hangouts.

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