Jackknife Bar is located just by the entrance/lobby of downtown’s Sentinel Hotel (formerly the Governor’s Hotel) on SW 11th and Alder, only a few blocks from the City Target, and brought to you by the minds behind Dig A Pony, Bye & Bye, and Sweet Hereafter. The space inside Jackknife is very dark and art deco- I wouldn’t be surprised to see fellow patrons decked out in the garb of the roaring 20s in here.
The atmosphere is very relaxed, with a very large bar if you want to chat with new people and watch the bartenders at work crafting drinks or pouring from their more than a dozen taps. Or you can sink yourself into groups of couches or big simple wooden tables and chairs that almost feels like you can light up a cigar and channel some of the previous guests of this historic hotel built in 1909.
If you’d like, Jackknife also has some seats by the bright giant windows facing the street and a few white plastic tables outside if you want to keep yourself grounded in the current era. In the back, huge booths seating almost a dozen people around a lounge table in shadows seems like a secret VIP area ready made to accommodate a celebrity’s entourage.
On the lighter, more refreshing side there’s
- Bonnie Parker cocktail (their take on a Moscow Mule) with Old Taylor whiskey, toasted pecan, lime, honey, and Jackknife ginger beer
- Bye Bye Sweet Pony with whiskey, quince, lemon, maple syrup, Jackknife ginger beer, and salt both taste light but have a hint of depth
- Days of Thunder house cocktail with vodka, lemon, cucumber, mint, jalapeno, Mello Yello
The toasted pecan, lime and honey of the Bonnie Taylor is subtle, while the Bye Bye Sweet Pony’s quince and maple syrup and salt combination make it dangerously easy to drink down the delicious. As my personal taste I really like spicy drinks, so the nostalgia of Mello Yello’s citrusy flavors (which I haven’t had since much younger days) added with the little bit of jalapeno burn was very enjoyable. Particularly, with the big heat wave in weather during which I had some of these beverages, the Bye Bye Sweet Pony and Days of Thunder were really a big relief as the thermometer inched towards 100.
Foodwise, I tried the Pimento Cheese, which comes with tomato relish and butter crackers. The butter crackers were so buttery that they crumbled in any attempt to spread the cheese or relish, which is fine because then you can just eat it by the forkful and it would work well with any drink you order at the bar. Or just by itself. Just saying.
Meanwhile, the order of Beets which comes with fried ricotta, pickled fennel, smoked walnuts and dijon vin was a beautiful light option that is a good choice for anyone who is vegetarian or gluten free.
On the vegetarian front, along with their bar burger there is also a vegan bbq tempeh burger so you don’t have to feel like a second class citizen with just this lovely, but admittedly not filling, salad. The only really filling food they offer on the menu are the two mentioned burgers and a ham and cheese sandwich, so the intention is to be a bar/lounge and not a place for a meal. On certain days, you may even find music with a DJ and dancing on weekends and for special events.
Jackknife Bar is open 3PM until 2AM, with happy hour from 4:30 to 6:30 PM everyday. There is no table service, you must order at the bar, but if you order food you will be given a number and they’ll bring your food to you.