Best of Columbus 2022: Ginger Rabbit is an Ideal Romantic Date Spot

It’s hard not to fall in love with the new Short North jazz and cocktail bar.

Erin Edwards
Columbus Monthly
Ginger Rabbit

Inspired by the jazz club at the ending of “La La Land,” Bronwyn Haines and her husband, chef BJ Lieberman, have followed up their successful launch of Chapman’s Eat Market with a wonderfully intimate jazz and cocktail bar: Ginger Rabbit. What’s sexier than sitting among velvet curtains, dirty martini in hand, while a jazz singer croons in a halo of purple light? How about spooning silky branzino onto a butter-lathered piece of rustic bread, just so, and feeding it to your date?

The Short North has been going in one direction lately—the clubby and, frankly, bro-y direction—but Ginger Rabbit brings sophistication back to the neighborhood, with high-quality drinks and snacks, nightly live jazz and a swanky atmosphere. It’s good to see a chef having fun, as Lieberman clearly is in his new underground burrow at 17 Buttles Ave. On some nights you might spot Lieberman in the back, organizing plates of conservas (tinned fish and seafood) alongside Dan the Baker bread, butter, lemon and microgreens. You might even catch him managing the sound.

The space lacks a kitchen, so the food menu is simple yet elegant: Seafood tins such as stuffed calamari, smoked trout, octopus, cockles and that luscious branzino in olive oil take the lead, along with Iberico ham and caviar. Cheese plates, charcuterie, Marcona almonds and chocolates sing backup. An excellent cocktail menu from bar manager Seth Laufman features eight classics and several creative drinks, such as the eponymous Ginger Rabbit (bright and frisky with gin, ginger syrup and carrot juice) and The Edison Award (complex and herbal with pisco, aquavit and a pineapple-cilantro shrub). Though Ginger Rabbit is a gin-focused bar, other spirits, wine and beer are available.

The décor, meanwhile, offers a stunning contrast to the room’s past life as a board gamers’ den. The former Kingmakers space has been transformed thanks to striped wallpaper and green walls, handsome tiled ceilings, heavy curtains, intimate tables with pink velvet chairs and an inviting bar from another era. You half expect to see Jessica Rabbit saunter onstage and declare: “I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way.”

This story is from the July 2022 issue of Columbus Monthly.