Jack Rose Dining Saloon, the Adams Morgan bar with the massive whiskey library, and recently opened sibling spot the Imperial are both reopening for takeout today, bringing the Adams Morgan strip more options for batched cocktails, date night dinners, and mini picnic spreads.
Online Tock orders from Imperial or Jack Rose can be picked up Wednesday and Thursday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., Friday from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
After five years of construction and regulatory headaches, the Imperial opened its three-level cocktail complex in December, garnering rave reviews for a menu full of references to old-school, Continental standards. Months later, COVID-19 reached the District, and the place went silent. After taking a two-month hiatus, chef Russell Jones hopes to revive that momentum with a couple three-course dinner packages for two ($45 to $50). One is built around beef Wellington — praised by the Washington Post as “a lovely version of the English classic” — and the other features a hearty, seafood-rich Bouillabaisse.
The to-go menu is also features sections for sandwiches — packing in everything from pit beef to burgers to fried softshell crabs — to summery snacks such as Old Bay fries or fried belly clams. There are a couple flatbreads, including one with soppressata. A $22 picnic pack comes with smoked trout, hummus, green goddess dip, crudite, and a mini baguette. A cocoa-dusted chocolate mousse topped with whipped cream rounds out the reboot.
For drinks, beverage director Andy Bixby bottles cocktails like an icy Sherry Colada with the Imperial’s white rum blend, Plantation pineapple rum, dulce de coco, pineapple juice, and lime. Sherry also spikes the “New Melon, Who This?” cocktail, mixed with with mezcal, cantaloupe, white peach, ginger tarragon syrup, and lemon.
The raw bar at the Imperial (2001 18th Street NW) was originally designed to double as a carryout lunch counter anyway, owner Bill Thomas says. Imperial’s prime corner location — which housed a bodega back in the day — also helps.
“We are blessed we have that visibility. The space does lend itself to a post- or during-COVID environment,” owner Bill Thomas says.
A few blocks up 18th Street NW, Jack Rose has a. new takeout menu split up into a similar format — its snack pack has pimento cheese and charcuterie. Jones’s familiar comfort food starters include shrimp hushpuppies, fried mac and cheese, and popular whiskey wings smothered in habanero and honey bourbon sauce. Salads, tacos, and sandwiches such as a lump crab roll and a Big Jack Burger are also listed.
“We are hustling to get a lot of people back to work,” Thomas says.
Bottled cocktails include the Paper Plane (bourbon, Aperol, Amaro Montenegro, lemon, gomme), Manhattan, and a frozen margarita. Jack Rose didn’t get to throw its annual Kentucky Derby party last month, normally a jam-packed kickoff to spring that generates demand for mint juleps muddled behind the bar. Customers can assemble the classic cocktail at home with a kit that includes pebbled ice, powdered sugar, and fresh mint.
Jack Rose test drove a carryout model days after the dine-in ban went into effect in mid-March, when to-go booze (sold with food) became legal. Thomas made the quick call to liquidate Jack Rose’s lauded 2,700-bottle whiskey collection, using proceeds to pay employees.
“There’s a realization that comes in that, ‘Hey we have got to make carryout part of our ongoing business model going forward,’” he says.
The wildly popular sale drew lines of socially distancing customers who were waiting in the rain on its first day. High-profile whiskey fanatics dropped $5,000 to $10,000 apiece for first dibs of the rarest bottles up for grabs. Thomas can’t “confirm or deny” rumors that Nationals star Ryan Zimmerman was one of the people in line, but he says “some stuff made its way into Zimmerman’s possession, and many other Nationals’ [hands]. They’ve been really supportive.”
Thomas is already restocking his wiped-out whiskey bar in preparation for its an eventual reopening, continuing to receive shipments every week from multiple importers. He’s also buying up barrels from distillers like Old Forrester, Four Roses, and Buffalo Trace.
The D.C. bar vet realizes going out will look a lot different in the coming months, or even years. Creating a “hybrid” takeout/dine-in model that accommodates less frequent customers will be key.
“We need to maximize the experience for every customer in the door,” he says. “Being an entrepreneur after this is is going to take on a whole new meaning — who would ever invest in another restaurant?”
While he admits it sounds “crazy,” Thomas says he’s actually moving full steam ahead on the opening of an additional bar, called Rosebud, in Glover Park. Construction is well under way on the building he owns at 2348 Wisconsin Avenue NW, which sports an airy roof deck with “amazing” views.
Peruse through some of the new to-go menus below: