WALLINGFORD — Customers can expect an expansive selection of martini creations at Jake’s on Center Street, including pumpkin spice and pop rocks candy.
“We do little twists, we like to make the cocktails look kind of cool so it’s a little bit different,” said Lynn Moran, co-owner of Jake’s and a Durham resident. “Very few classic martinis are made here, everybody likes to see that blue drink coming out or the green (drink).”
Moran and husband Anthony Milici opened Jake’s in 2007 in a Prohibition-era building. The 13,000 square-foot tavern has an original brick exterior along with interior features that give it a city vibe.
“We have a big city feel in a little town,” Moran said.
Pieces of history dot the tavern, including a secret hiding spot under the floor where barrels of beer were rolled in during Prohibition. The building has a front bar area with a side dining space and a backroom with a second bar and stage used for dancing and live entertainment.
Though Jake’s menu offers classic cocktails like an Old Fashioned, it’s the variety of martinis that gives the bar a modern twist.
“They think it’s fun,” said Brittney Frazier, a bartender at Jake’s. “We decorate them and they look really nice.”
Moran said the most popular martini is the espresso martini followed by chocolate flavors.
For the chocolate martinis, Frazier swirls chocolate syrup inside the glass before filling it with the dessert concoction.
“She has an art when she makes her martinis, it’s kind of elegant to watch,” Moran said of Frazier.
Seasonal martinis include cider-style drinks in martini glasses with apple pie spice on the rim. A pumpkin spice flavored drink called James and the Giant Pumpkin uses Stoli Vanilla, Baileys and pumpkin liqueur topped with pumpkin spice for a fall favorite.
Other martinis include a Bloody Mary twist called the BLT with cucumber vodka, bloody mary mix, Sriracha sauce and candied bacon.
Moran said the drink ideas come from the bartenders as well as her two adult sons.
Over the last decade the drink and pub menu has changed, with new items added. However, Moran said the biggest change has been the number of people who meet online and come to Jake’s for their first date.
“We’re not Middletown but we’re almost halfway so people will come in and say ‘I’m meeting somebody here,’ and we all love it because it’s kind of cool,” she said of the trend. “I always tell them we have a parking lot in the back, so if it doesn’t work out they can sneak out the back.”
When the first dates work out, Moran said often the couples come back. A wedding was held at Jake’s two years ago for a couple that first met in person at the tavern.
“We have a good variety of people that come in,” she said. “We like to think of it as a warm and cozy neighborhood bar.”
For more information, call 203-793-1782.