While the Lower Highland’s restaurant scene continues to go gangbusters, the neighborhood’s standalone bar growth has been noticeably more measured. Blame it on the already outrageous real estate, a slightly older (than RiNo) demographic, but for years, cocktail drinkers who find themselves just across I-25 have had a slowly incrementing handful of dedicated options to choose from. Even more difficult to happen upon is the casual cocktail bar, where customers can walk in — before a meal, after dinner, just walk in period.
Enter Lady Jane. By the owner of Hudson Hill, it’s a new California-inspired lounge in the heart of 32nd Avenue. “It’s really just about having a space be relevant to what’s going on around it,” said owner Jake Soffes. “How do we take the model of Hudson Hill, which has worked really beautifully in Cap Hill, and just kind of update it and make it fit into the neighborhood up here.”
Soffes’ answer took a blank canvas in the brand new Alexan LoHi apartment building and dressed it up to evoke Palm Springs in the 1960s, his aunt Jane, and her work in the recording industry. At Lady Jane, named for said aunt and the Rolling Stones song by the same name, palm fronds sprout in between all-angular benches and tables; orb lights glow from the countertops and ceilings. A record player will start out late-summer nights playing “Pet Sounds” from the Beach Boys.
To manage the bar, Soffes recruited Minetta Gould, formerly of the underground Saint Ellie on Platte Street. Gould’s goal is to make cocktails “plain and simple, nothing scary” in the likes of Curio (Denver Central Market’s bar) and American Bonded (the latest by Williams & Graham owner Sean Kenyon). “I feel like Denver is on the cusp right now,” she said. “... There’s been a push to be super boutique and high-end, but no one’s really doing a place where you can just hang out and have a quality cocktail.”
Cocktails at Lady Jane include a whiskey sour made with honey egg cream that utilizes the leftover yolks from egg-white drinks. A “pink gin” takes ice-cold, undiluted Plymouth and adds in only Angostura bitters. One summer rum swizzle mixes Brugal with Curaçao, preserved citrus, mint, and a float of Fernet Branca. For every old fashioned sold from the starting drink lineup, $1 will be donated to a local arts charity. The bar also incorporates collectible glassware with designs by Denver-area artists.
Maybe the most exciting thing about this new neighborhood addition is its happy hour, which extends all night to drinkers waiting for tables at nearby restaurants and also to industry workers coming off a shift at another food or drink establishment. At any time of evening, drink prices start at $3, continue up to $13 for some cocktails, and will reach as high as $20 for a special pour or two. But Soffes and Gould are stressing ease and variety, from East Coast beers to big Cabs by the glass. Also, there’s a small food menu with one each of a prosciutto and grilled cheese sandwich.
Status: Lady Jane is now open at 2021 West 32nd Avenue. Hours are from 4 p.m. to midnight Monday through Wednesday and until 1 a.m. Thursday through Saturday. The bar closes Sundays. More information coming on the website.