Find happy hours and drink specials anywhere you are

Now Open: Black Jack

Now Open: Black Jack

Fourteenth Street’s new shrine to artisanal cocktails Black Jack marries craft libations with upscale bar food, all in a hip space that consistently offers some of the best service around. With an indoor Bocce court and a menu that draws crowds of local food industry folk, Black Jack (and its sister restaurant, Peal Dive Oyster Palace, located downstairs) has quickly become one of the hottest bars in D.C.

The theatrical décor was inspired by dramatic red plush curtains that owner Jeff Black saw on stage in New York. “It was very vaudevillian,” says Black, who together with his wife Barbara and the Black Restaurant Group owns four addtional D.C.-area establishments. “We loved the color and the risqué feel,” he says, pointing to the sweeping velvet drapes that frame the liquor behind the Black Jack’s bar.

The rest of the interior is decorated with a collection of found items from all over the region: the illuminated “Golf” sign was snagged from a New Jersey junkyard and the octagonal light fixtures are from Second Chance in Baltimore. The latest addition is a tiki bar scored at the shop next door, Miss Pixies. Black himself bought it just this weekend, carrying it over and setting it up in the back near the Bocce ball court, where patrons can now pay in cash for punch or one of six bottled or canned brews while waiting their turn to play.

While Black Jack’s canned beer list is impressive, this bar is all about the cocktails. “There are no nonsense confections here,” says the mustachioed bar manager, who explains that the drink menu is influenced by both pre- and post-prohibition libations, all made with house-made ingredients when possible. Instead of simple syrup, for example, Black Jack’s Sazerac contains a housemade lemon gomme, which becomes viscous instead of dissolving completely, lending the drink a smooth, velvety texture.

The Maple Derby (made with Buffalo Trace bourbon, grapefruit, lime, ginger and maple) is the bar’s most popular beverage, followed closely by the Blue Vein, a concoction made with Tito’s vodka, lime, house-made cassis and house-made ginger beer.  In the coming weeks, look for the menu to feature a Tom & Jerry, a traditional rum-based hot cocktail similar to eggnog that will be garnished with absinthe-soaked, housemade marshmallows.

While imbibing, you can catch silent films projected on the exposed brick wall (expect a good dose of spaghetti westerns, Mexican wrestling and French gangster films), groove to the establishment’s consistently excellent soundtrack or order from the bar menu, which includes upscale bites such as gourmet pizza, pork belly nachos and oysters on the half shell.

Stop by for happy hour 6–7 PM, Tuesday–Friday for $7 Sobieski vodka martinis, $5 wines by the glass and half-price draft beer, or venture in on a Sunday evening between 10 PM–12:30 AM for “industry night,” which features $9 beer-and-shot combos and half-price pizza. Downstairs, Pearl Dive offers the same happy hour drink specials from 4–7 PM, Monday–Friday, as well as buy-one, get-one oysters (6 oyster minimum).

1612 14th St. NW; 202-986-5225

Top photo via the restaurant's Facebook page; bottom photo by Lauren Sloat


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