Occupying the old Betta Meats butchery on King Street, Earl's Juke Joint has been a long time coming. And we mean long. The bar is the brainchild of Pasan Wijesena, yet another graduate of the Shady Pines Saloon school of barkeeping.
Earl's is all about The Big Easy. Named for Earl Palmer, a New Orleans drummer credited with creating the backbeat for rock 'n' roll, the bar pays homage to New Orleans and the Deep South, where a juke joint was an informal, usually rural bar featuring live music that catered primarily to African Americans.
Inside, Earl's is darn pretty. There are dark wooden floorboards, tin covering the ceiling and a long, eye-catching bar that seems to stretch forever. Posters featuring blues legends like Fats Domino cover the side wall, some elegant art deco-style lamps hang above the bar and a couple of old pews sit out the back.
To drink, chug on Resch's on tap or peruse the bottle list that features Sierra Nevada, Anchor Steam and Hitachino Nest. Cider geeks can sip Bilpin or Young Henrys and wine lovers can enjoy the seriously French-accented wine list. Cocktail-wise, a Phife Dawg (a phithy reference to the diminutive A Tribe Called Quest rapper) has rum, lime, sugar cane juice and bitters, while the strawberry lemonade packs a punch courtesy of a slug of rye. A Hobo Julep is an expedited version of a Mint Julep, and a Ramos Gin Fizz, a classic New Orleans cocktail, makes a welcome addition on an all-round excellent list.
It seems the wait for Earl's was well worth it. It's got a vibe similar to Mary's: it's not an intimate bar, it's roomy, and at capacity will morph into a fun and raucous tavern. The bar's design, drinks list and service have all been carefully considered, resulting in a most welcome addition to King Street. You probably don't need us to tell you, but we'll say it anyway: you should be drinking at Earl's.
Earl's Juke Joint
407 King Street, Newtown