Jack Rose Libation House takes cocktails seriously. This house of mixology, tucked away off Highway 9 on the grounds of the former La Hacienda Inn, specializes in creating homemade syrups, shrubs and bitters for their creative classic cocktail menu—and their extra effort shines through.
Jack Rose Libation House takes its name from a favorite concoction of novelist John Steinbeck, who for a time lived on a property that bordered the old La Hacienda. Ernest Hemingway also wrote fondly of the Jack Rose cocktail and accordingly, its namesake has the feel of an old hunting lodge bar where I imagine both novelists would comfortably enjoy themselves—maybe even avail themselves of the (now) vintage typewriter decorating the entryway. Completing the rustic theme; a small library seating area decorated with leather bound books, hunting trophies adorning the walls and orange-tinged Edison bulbs that give the bar a gentle glow.
The drink menu, of course highlighted by the signature Jack Rose, divides the offerings between lighter cocktails and those with big, bold flavors. The Libation House also features several current mixology trends with house punches, gin & tonics on tap and barrel-aged cocktails, which develop concentrated, bold flavors. The Jack Rose cocktail is a delightful concoction of Larids 100-proof apple brandy, fresh lemon and house-made grenadine. The sweet lemony, apple flavor makes it incredibly easy to blithely sip away but it’s deceptively drinkable, with the 100-proof brandy nearly masked entirely by the fruit forwardness of the cocktail.
While its season may be running short, on the big and bold cocktail menu I found a favorite in the Kentucky Buck, which takes house-made strawberry infused bourbon, with simple syrup, bitters, fresh lime and ginger beer. The bartender let me try a sip of just the strawberry-infused Maker’s Mark they use in the drink and it was enjoyably mellow, with a slight strawberry flavor that wasn’t overpowering. In my opinion, The Kentucky Buck could do without the simple syrup and still be plenty enjoyable.
The Libation House is one of those bars that also happens to serve food—unfortunately no one under 21 is allowed, so leave the kids at home. The food menu features cheese and charcuterie plates, delicious bacon wrapped dates and several pizzas. From the pizza menu I tried the Happy Hawaiian with pineapple bites, mozzarella cheese and bacon. Like other food items at Jack Rose, the pizza unpretentiously arrives on a baking sheet. Unlike many other Hawaiian pizzas I’ve had before, the pineapple pieces were much smaller and guaranteed you got the sweet and salty bacon and pineapple combination in each bite. Unfortunately the pizza was quite greasy but did not stop a friend and I from enjoying every last piece.