Imagine the comforts of having friends over for cocktails: fun drinks, craveable snacks and good conversation in an inviting space. Now, think about hosting without needing to juice limes, preheat the oven or tidy up the bathroom. That’s the idea behind Jane Jane, a new cocktail bar from a trio of D.C. hospitality veterans.
“We want it to feel like we’re inviting you to a cocktail party we’re hosting at our home, which just happens to be in a bar,” says co-owner Drew Porterfield, who created the space alongside husband Ralph Brabham and longtime friend J.P. Sabatier.
Jane Jane opened in the mixed-use, historic Liz apartment building off 14th Street in Northwest, D.C. in late August. It’s inspired by and named after Brabham’s mother and her knack for welcoming house guests with an abundant spread of drinks and hors d’oeuvres.
“As we always say, she’s never met a stranger,” Porterfield says.
Jane Jane hopes to translate that easy Southern hospitality to D.C.’s bustling 14th Street Corridor.
Attention to service is a focal point from start to finish. Guests receive a complimentary serving of mixed nuts as they browse the 30-something classic cocktails offered. The menu features both familiar picks, like the margarita, and lesser-known options, like the gin-based Corpse Reviver #2, made with lemon juice, curacao, cocchi americano and absinthe. Most drinks are priced at $14, and the bar makes syrups and ingredients in-house. A small selection of beer and wine is available as well.
Sabatier, formerly of Rappahannock Oyster Bar, Maydan and Compass Rose, oversees the bar and cocktail program. Don’t expect any smoked glassware or elaborate preparations, though. Sabatier thinks keeping things straightforward will help to demystify traditional recipes.
“We are just doing classics, and we’re doing them well,” he says. “We’re going to give some exposure to some of these drinks that not a lot of people know about.”
Consistency is a big part of the equation. A Manhattan ordered up on a Tuesday evening will follow the same recipe as one made during a humming Saturday night, regardless of who’s behind the bar.
All good cocktail parties have food, and Jane Jane’s snacks draw inspiration from Porterfield and Brabham’s Southern roots. The space isn’t set up for a fryer, so the kitchen offers comfort bites in other ways like pimento cheese or pickled okra. Sabatier, who grew up in Puerto Rico, pitched in with his riff on French onion dip.
“We needed to still fit into that whole bar style of food, which is very crunchy and salty,” Sabatier says. “You want olives, you want nuts, you want things both textural and easy to nosh on.”
“All the food we made at that pop-up was amazing Southern breakfast stuff we grew up eating,” Porterfield says.
Jane Jane’s 850-square foot space, designed by Edit Lab at Streetsense, embraces a warm, vintage feel, complete with seating nooks and lots of dark greens and wood tones throughout. Wallpaper is inspired by a 1950s Fornasetti illustration, and the back bar is outfitted with a plaid mosaic tile pattern. The 32-person capacity ensures an intimate evening. Like the rest of the experience, it’s made to feel like a home away from home.
“We set off to create the bar we want to go to,” Brabham says. “I think we are creating something unique and new, but also nostalgic and fun.”
Jane Jane is currently open Tuesday through Sunday from 5 p.m. – 2 a.m., with the kitchen open until 10 p.m. Expanded hours, including Mondays, are also expected. In true D.C. fashion, a weekend brunch is in the works, with quiches and baked goods from pastry chef and Buttercream Bakeshop owner Tiffany MacIsaac. Seating is walkup-only. Proof of vaccination is required for entry.
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