Walking into the four-month-old West End tiki bar and eatery Jungle, I immediately felt compelled to drop my bag down and stretch on the floor. The — excuse the literal here — hidden jungle vibe inspired a sense of playfulness and I wanted to kick off my shoes.
Plants, woven macabre, bamboo and a variety of metals fill the one-room space a block west of Pearl Street at 2018 10th Street. A record player spun The Heptones with about 50 more records stacked near where co-owner Jake Novotny and I sat and chatted.
Unlike many tiki bars you’ll see, Jungle does not feature Polynesian kitsch, but instead focuses its aesthetic on rum, which originated in Caribbean islands such as Barbados, not the deep Pacific.
Jake and Boulderite Eliott Toan, who also owns the hip three-year-old American food spot Arcana just three blocks away, had this relaxed feel in mind when concocting their plan to bring their tiki vision to Boulder. They wanted a comfortable place that would energize staff and customers, with a regenerative and light ambience.
“The vision was to make a bar that was fun to go to,” Jake says. “In Boulder it’s always in between a speakeasy high-end place or a pub like the Sundown Saloon. We’re right there in between, and the dynamic here changes like crazy.”
The bar’s mood shifts drastically from day to night, or with the Dj’s spin, transforming seemingly immediately from a quiet cocktail vibe to impromptu dance party.
This magical nook seemingly appeared out of the blue, and it almost did. The airy, green space opened its doors July 9, just two weeks after the European-style wine bar, PMG, closed.
The Jungle crew flipped the space after PMG’s owner Emily Gold shut her doors on June 28. If you don’t go downtown every day, you could’ve blinked and missed it. Jake and company purchased the furniture and painted the bar in just one day.
Jungle operates 4 – 11 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 12 – 7 p.m. on Sunday.
While Jungle takes a playful approach to its tiki, it takes rum seriously.
Jungle has a large collection of island wines and rums, but the bestseller is an old standby: its frozen, slushy Piña Colada, which has become synonymous with its brand.
“Tropic Like It’s Hot”, made with Oaxacan Rum, Mezcal, Cactus Fruit, Sour Orange, Ancho Chile & Mole Bitters, is another popular cocktail and comes in a big parrot, lit on fire with lemon oil.
Featured image: Eric Lewis with Jungle’s glorious collection of island Rums and ceramic squid mugs. Image: Tatyana Sharpton.