Friday Happy Hour: Maple Derby at Black Jack

After what seemed like an extended “coming soon” period, followed by a week or so of soft-opening, 14th Street’s new Pearl Dive Oyster Bar is officially open, as is the upstairs bar, Black Jack.

Black Jack is designed to be a fun, casual spot – complete with that buzzed-about indoor bocce pitch. They have a nice selection of whiskeys behind the bar and a short list of signature cocktails, two of which come out of a slushie machine. There are colorful lights strung from the ceiling to give a suggestion of being outdoors on a cool patio.

If you are getting the impression that they just crammed every bar trend into one place, you might be on to something. However, the staff are nice, the crowd seemed fine and surprisingly, not-crowded – and based on what I have sampled, the drinks are tasty.

Based on a recommendation from the bartender the other night, I opted for the Maple Derby. I watched him squeeze the grapefruit and lime, which went in with ginger, Buffalo Trace Bourbon and maple syrup.

It was sweet up front but resolved cleanly, not sticky, and with a touch of ginger spice. The flavor of the bourbon is subtle but present. You could certainly give this to a person who claimed to hate bourbon and they would find it accessible, but the drink is not “dumbed-down.” Overall, it was fun and quaffable.

After a few, I might try to convince someone to teach me to play bocce.

Brittany has tried to leave DC, it just never lasts. She has lived in Chicago, California, and China – but she always comes back home. Brittany is a drinks, nightlife, and style correspondent for We Love DC. Between columns, you can find her on Twitter, Tumblr, or standing by the bar. Email her at brittany(at)

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