Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Best jazz bar: Jojo Restaurant and Bar

Jackson Lanzer | Staff Photographer
The lively jazz scene at Jojo Restaurant and Bar on U Street.

Location: 1518 U St. NW

Readers’ pick: Georgetown Piano Bar

Down a flight of stairs and inside a townhouse basement on U Street sits Jojo Restaurant and Bar.

Buzzing with live music, I stumbled into a room with dozens of patrons filling every available seat. Candles flickered atop the mahogany tables, and the bar was dimly lit and illuminated by a sultry, crimson glow. It was romantic in a 1920s Jazz Age way.

Only a couple feet from the tables, the band performed, their bass guitar, drums, saxophone and keyboard melding into the energetic sound of jazz. As the music played, some people sang, others danced, while many couples held hands — moments of romance you’d expect to see flicker across the screen at a showing of “La La Land.”

The band played a blend of high-energy drums and low-key saxophone-centered tunes, letting patrons dance like it was the roaring ’20s or cry over a lost love into their cocktail. The instrument-only performance let me focus on the rhythms of the different instruments, appreciating each deep bass pluck and keyboard riff.

I approached the bar in awe of its menagerie of spirits — everything from a bottle of Jack to a bougie bottle of Macallan. Deciding that I should feel as loose as the music around me, I ordered two drinks.

The first drink was $13 and called “La Vie En Rose” — inspired by the 1940s song of the same name by French singer Édith Piaf — it was crafted from Tito’s vodka, raspberry syrup, rose petal and lemon. The drink was slightly sour but had sweet, floral undertones. 

The second drink was called “The Ellington” — adopting the name of the legendary jazz composer and D.C. native Duke Ellington — and consisted of Bulleit rye, apricot syrup, lemon, egg whites and angostura. The slightly pricier $15 drink was very sweet, making the “La Vie En Rose” seem like a strong and sour contrast. It was served in a whimsical glass with a twisty stem that looked like it could be a prop from the musical “Wicked.” 

After about 45 minutes of vibing to the music, I decided to add one final cocktail before the bar closed for the night. As the saxophone’s staccato melodies punctuated the background, I ordered the “Lush Life” — a $14 drink inspired by the song of the same name written by songwriter Billy Strayhorn in the 1930s — which melded cherry hibiscus Jose Cuervo tequila, agave and lime to elicit a sweet, fruity taste with hints of smoke.

Although I didn’t encounter Seb from “La La Land” during my evening of jazz, the musicians were all friendly and welcoming, meandering over to the bar after the show to mingle with the audience. 

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