A Fabulous Sunday Brunch with Family at Jack Rose Libation House Named After a Drink with a Notorious Past

A Fabulous Sunday Brunch with Family at Jack Rose Libation House Named After a Drink with a Notorious Past

It was great day to sit outdoors. It was sunny and mild. Cecile and I recently joined Kim and Al Chien and Al’s parents Dana and Jack, our daughter Michelle and Kyle and Kyle’s brother Chip in from New York. Having been away on vacation in South East Asia for over a month, we hadn’t been able to gather together in quite some time. It was a good time to check in, gather ourselves up from the ups and downs (loss* and gains) of life we all go through and just be present with and for one another other (See Memorial postscript).

Jack Rose is known for its artistic cocktail-crafting bartenders who know how to make a drink for its patrons at the bar or as a take-away to sit under one of the sun-drenched patios with the orange umbrellas, and cushioned sofas and chairs. They keep expanding the seating areas, a good sign that they are doing well. The food and drinks were terrific and the service was excellent. Though we have been here for drinks this was the first time we tried their Sunday brunch.

Jack Rose is a cocktail made of applejack, grenadine in a syrup made from pressed pomegranate seeds, and lemon or lime juice (See last photo). One theory has it that it was named after the notorious NYC gambler and underword figure, Jacob Rosenzweig (aka Baldy Jack Rose) who was alleged to have ordered a contract hit on Herman Rosenthal, the owner of several gambling dens in what resulted in the “Trial of the Century.” The drink was very popular in the 1920s and 30s and known to be the favorite drink of literary great, John Steinbeck who lived in our neighboring town, Monte Sereno from 1926-28. While there he wrote “The Grapes of Wrath” and “Mice and Men."

The location used to house La Hacienda Inn and Restaurant, a West Valley Landmark that was founded by a friend, Michael Morosin’s father who came over from Italy with little money in his pocket. We used to go there for lunch when the restaurant was operated by a Persian restauranteur and acquaintance I knew from my health and fitness club.

Some time after Michael’s father passed away he and his sisters inherited the property and sold it to real estate investors Michael Messinger and business partner Russ Stanley for $6.5 million. The Stanleys opened Jack Rose Libation House in early 2014. With the craft movement on the rise, the Jack Rose cocktail has regained its popularity that was tarnished by its past mob history association.

Postscript: The heart and candle image is in memory of Kyle's grandmother, Dolores C. Lewis who passed away recently at the age of 95, and to Kim's beloved sister Deborah (Debbie) Jeanne Shoffner who also passed away recently after a long bout with cancer at the age of 68. We attended their memorial services this past week. May they RIP.