With one of the best happy hours in Denver, Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar fills their bar seven days a week, from 4pm – 6pm, by shucking oysters, mixing drinks, and serving small plates of delicious bites.
Jax is so serious about oysters they have their own oyster (exclusively grown for them – it’s really their own oyster)! It’s named the Emersum Oyster and is farmed in cooperation with 115 year-old family run Rappahannock River Oysters in Virginia. With a buttery, creamy, and sweet taste, Emersum oysters are so popular Jax had to create a way to sustain their custom creation. (Denver’s LoDo location regularly shucks 1,000 fresh bivalves from their fresh list during a daily happy hour. Last month, National Oyster Day had their mother shuckers prying open over 2,600 oysters in just a few hours!)
To meet demand, Jax needed the oysters to be harvested quickly, sometimes before their peak. Since the oysters weren’t always given ample time to grow, weak shells sometimes resulted, leading to shattering during shucking. Born was the “sustainable oyster”.
Clean, used shells are recycled in a “spat on shell” program. Spats (tiny oyster larvae) are cultured and allowed to set onto the empty oyster shell. The spats then attach onto the shell and begin growing. Since the shells are already in existence, the spat spends more energy growing themselves, rather than the shell, unlike a traditional oyster. The result is a faster growing oyster with a smoother, less briny flavor. So far, the spat on shell seems to be a hit. The ecological oyster production is keeping up with current demand and the flavor is better than ever.
Oysters at Jax are served traditionally on the half-shell with atomic horseradish and cocktail sauce, or with a tangy mignonette – a condiment made with shallots and vinegar, or with seasonal vinaigrette (think palisade peach flavored). They are also available hot from the kitchen after being dipped in cornmeal, fried crispy, and served with remoulade.
The rest of the happy hour menu is filled with small plates at affordable prices. The kitchen puts out countless plates like their renowned Calamari with mango-chile mojo and lime aioli. It easily satisfies with a sweet, spicy, and savory flavor combination and easily tops the must-have list. The Gumbo Fries are a cheeky take on crawfish tail and andouille gumbo with the gumbo being poured over crispy fries. The fries don’t lose their crisp, even as the savory gumbo starts to soak into them. The dish is finished with diced aged white cheddar.
Try the Sea Dog, which was created at a Denver Broncos tailgate party a few years back. A Saags frankfurter is topped with Jax own mustard sauce, crab, Andouille sausage, and served in a housemade split top bun.
Jax puts a spin on the traditional chicken wing with their Bacon Confitted Chicken Wings. Chicken wings are braised for 24 hours in bacon fat and then topped with a smoked tomato barbecue sauce and Jax’s own hot sauce.
While you watch, Fresh Mussels are steamed at the restaurant’s center counter with smoked ham hock, snap peas, or with a panang curry sauce. A calendar-rotating third mussel sauce is available, with simple garlic and chardonnay as the current option.
As the seasons change, so do the mussels. During the summer west-coast Puget Sound mussels are at their best. In the winter months, the mussels shift to P.E.I. (Prince Edward Island) off the east-coast of Canada. Weather matters when selecting the bivalves making Jax’s selection the tastiest.
In addition to the outstanding eats, selections from the bar include the refreshing Strawberry Lemonade with house-infused strawberry vodka, Peg Leg with rum, grapefruit, cinnamon and lime, The Post Emersum Oyster Stout, and of course, Oyster Shooters with east coast oysters, vodka and Bloody Mary mix.
Check out the entire happy hour and cocktail menu online.