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Drinks Special: Cocktails at Jack Rose

Photo courtesy of
‘Mai Tai at Jack Rose’s Tiki bar’
courtesy of ‘Jenn Larsen’

Jack Rose Dining Saloon has been opening in stages, overlooking the seemingly interminable construction at the intersection of 18th Street and Florida Avenue NW. Now that the dust is finally clearing from the brand new sidewalk outside, its long-awaited dinner menu has debuted as well and is being served seven nights a week in the downstairs dining room and bar. The upstairs patio has been in full swing for most of the summer and is due to continue the grilling and swilling through the fall, including a Tiki bar on the back porch that served me up some killer classics two weeks ago when I visited for the official debut of the downstairs menu.

The key visual of Jack Rose is certainly its downstairs dining room’s wall of scotches, bourbons and spirits – 1400 bottles lining the bar in bookcases of booze. Between liquor, wine and beer the catalog of offerings can be a bit staggering, but the elegant room invites relaxed sifting through the menu while sipping some Ardbeg at the long bar, watching bartenders climb up ladders library-style to fetch bottles. Turn a corner at Jack Rose and the atmosphere can instantly change – every space here has its own feel, so give yourself some wandering time before deciding where you’d like to perch for a while.

Upstairs is divided into several sections, including a front balcony overlooking 18th Street off a small lounge bar complete with fireplace, the main open-air deck with a wood-fire grill and bar, and the small back bar that’s slowly turning into a Tiki spot. I started back there and almost never left, as a friend sipped a perfect Painkiller. After watching the moon rise off the back porch with a classic Mai Tai (orgeat syrup? yes please!) it was time to head downstairs and sample some whiskey cocktails from the excellent selection crafted by Rachel Sergi. Continue reading