Washingtonians are used to New York restaurants opening outposts in the Nation's Capital, but a bar making the move from Manhattan to D.C. is rare.
That's why it was surprising to hear that the Public House Collective, which runs New York's whiskey-centric Ward III and cocktails-and-jazz bar the Rum House, is turning the former Jin Lounge on 14th Street into Quarter+Glory, "an authentic ode to the bars of old New York" with an extensive cocktail menu that's expected to debut in mid-December.
When Public House Collective began looking to place its first venture outside New York, "D.C. was far and away the most logical choice," says president Ryan Burke, pointing to the energy at the new restaurants and bars around 14th Street and U Street. "People who live here have an appreciation for fine food and drink, and that fits what we try to offer from a hospitality aspect."
Flattery is nice, but some Washingtonians are going to be inherently wary of New Yorkers bearing bespoke cocktails after years of hearing about how much better everything four hours to the north. The owners say Quarter+Glory will not be a New York tribute bar – no subway tiles, old photos of Prospect Park or framed Yankees memorabilia – but a watering hole inspired by the bars that partner Kenneth McCoy "literally grew up in" as his father ran a series of bars in the 1970s and '80s.
"We're not building a New York City bar in Washington D.C.," Burke says. "We're not looking to say 'We're from New York, and our bars are better.' D.C. has a vibrant scene. It's a really exciting place to eat and drink on its own."
With that diplomacy out of the way, we can move on to more important matters.
Ward III's cocktails have earned praise from the New York Times and New York Magazine, among others, so people familiar with Quarter+Glory's New York siblings are going to be clamoring for barstools. The initial cocktail list will contain a hefty 23 selections curated by Kenneth McCoy, who serves as the chief creative officer for Rum House and Ward III.
A mix of classics and originals are promised, including two that will be served on tap: a barrel-aged Negroni and the house Q+G, made with Brugal Añejo rum, Cutty Sark Prohibition Scotch, Gran Classico bitter, Cinzano 1757 vermouth and Pok Pok tamarind vinegar. The menu will rotate seasonally, with input from Quarter+Glory staff. (Robert Yealu, who most recently helped create the Embassy Row Hotel's food and beverage programs, has been tapped as general manager.)
On the other hand, Burke says, he doesn't want this bar just to be known as "a fancy cocktail bar or a neighborhood pub," but to serve as a bit of both, offering "creative cocktails at a quick pace" on Friday night, and filling the role of a much more relaxed neighborhood spot on a Monday or Tuesday evening.
Quarter+Glory's name sounds like something that came out of the hipster name generator, but it, and the bar's intended vibe, "came from an alleged story about a literary society in New York founded by [playwright] Eugene O'Neill," Burke explains. "At the end of every meeting, they'd toast each other and say, 'Give me quarter and glory.'"
Jin was frequently a dark and cramped space, so the New York-based Parts and Labor Design has been turning the circa-1919 building into something more welcoming and stylish. The drop ceilings and plaster on the walls have been removed, showing off ceilings that climb to 20 feet high and original brick walls. The façade is being modified to double the size of the existing window while allowing it to open, and add another row of windows above.
The centerpiece of the plan is a 33-foot oak-topped bar with 26 bar stools, facing a large circular booth and a row of tables that can seat 26 more customers. The total capacity is just 99 people. "There's something romantic about intimate bar spaces," Burke says.
When it opens, Quarter+Glory will just serve drinks – a menu of "elevated pub fare" will be unveiled two or three months in, Burke says, and it will only take reservations for large groups, so roving literary societies will want to call ahead or just show up early to grab seats.
Quarter+Glory, 2017 14th St. NW. www.quarterandglory.com.